11:52AM, Thursday 31 October 2019
An open letter calling for the law on assisted dying to change has been signed by the Thames Valley police and crime commissioner (PCC).
Anthony Stansfeld is among 18 PCCs who have signed the letter on behalf of Ron Hogg, the police, crime and victims commissioner for Durham.
The 68-year-old was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in August and wants the law to change so he can end his own life.
The letter is addressed to Robert Buckland, Secretary of State for Justice.
It states: “While there are clearly differences of opinion as to whether or how the law should change, we contend that the law is not working as well as it could and seek an inquiry to confirm that.”
Mr Stansfeld added: “It is an emotive subject but recent high profile cases have again shown that the current law can unnecessarily prolong great suffering to both the patient and their close family.
“It needs to be looked at again.”
The letter, which has been signed by Mr Hogg, disagrees with the blanket ban on all assisted dying in the UK.
Assisting suicide is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, while euthanasia, depending on the circumstance, can be regarded as manslaughter or murder.
The letter continues: “The blanket ban has caused distress, confusion and pain for dying people, their loved ones, and even the investigating police officers themselves.
“We owe it to dying and bereaved people, and their families, to try and find a better way of dealing with assisted dying.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We have the deepest sympathies for those who find themselves in terribly saddening circumstances.
“This is a matter of individual conscience, and any change in the law is for Parliament rather than Government to decide.”