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Police to replace ‘insufficient evidence’ notification

Suspects in criminal investigations will no longer be told that they will not be prosecuted on the basis of ‘insufficient evidence’ the Home Office has announced. A consultation with the Police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Attorney General’s Office took place following concerns raised that the current wording raises doubt on an individual’s innocence.

Lord Marlesford expressed concerns during the committee state of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 that the current phrase of ‘insufficient evidence’ used implied that "there was some evidence and that the former suspect would not be regarded by the general public and the media as completely innocent". Lord Marlesford proposed that the term "lack of evidence" should be substituted.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford (in a letter to Lord Marlesford) has said that Police will now get to choose from two possibilities namely: 'The evidence did not meet the evidential stage of the full code test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors’, or ‘Further action is not in the public interest’.

Baroness Williams has said that the revised wording will be sent to Police forces to substitute the current term ‘imminently’.

At first glance it would appear that the proposed wording seems more unwieldy than before and reference to ‘the evidence’ could be interpreted as meaning that there was some evidence.  At least ‘insufficient’ implied something lacking whereas the new terminology may give the opposite effect.

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