Whereas euthanasia is legal in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, it has nevertheless been banned in the United Kingdom(see Angleterre: opposition à la légalisation de l’euthanasie – England: opposition to the legalisation of euthanasia). However, since 2002, the law has authorised the withdrawal of treatment in certain cases.
Since February 2010, violations committed by people helping their relatives to die have apparently decreased but, in reality, the situation is quite different (see Royaume-Uni : l’euthanasie au centre des débats – United Kingdom: euthanasia at the heart of the debate).
According to police data relating to England, Wales and Northern Ireland collected by The Economist, 83 clear-cut violations of people helping their loved ones to die have been recorded. In 2014, only 17 violations were reported and 23 in 2015. Only 12 violations were recorded during the first nine months of 2016. According to The Economist, the number of violations reported should have increased in reality, but police are making fewer charges.
The journal is therefore based on the figures produced by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). This UK non-ministerial department is responsible for initiating criminal proceedings in England and Wales. Based on CPS figures, between April 2009 and April 2016, four-fifths of assisted suicide cases brought to the CPS by the police were withdrawn. Proceedings are therefore “seldom followed up to term” (see Royaume-Uni : l’aide au suicide n’est plus poursuivie – United Kingdom: proceedings no longer taken against assisted suicide). Criminal proceedings are brought less routinely against persons who help a family member to commit suicide provided that the latter clearly expressed his/her intent.
This reality is confirmed by N. Davies, a British person involved with the right to die association, Dignity in Dying. According to him, over 200 British people have accessed assisted suicide. In fact, Dignity in Dying claims to have proof suggesting that several hundred British people kill themselves in their own homes every year whilst the police “turn a blind eye” to such violations.
The Economist (13/01/17)