7 January 2011Prosecutors have been ordered not to use the term 'shaken baby syndrome' because of its "emotive connotations".
Publishing fresh guidelines following the recent Court of Appeal challenges, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has recommended the term ‘non-accidental head injury’ (NAHI) should replace the shorthand reference to cases involving the death of a child due to internal bleeding.
“The use of the term ‘shaken baby syndrome’ should now be avoided as it can be considered to have emotive connotations, and, more importantly, does not adequately describe the range of causes of head injuries,” said the CPS statement.
The guidelines tighten the evidence required to launch manslaughter, attempted murder or assault charges after medical experts demonstrated the common three-part diagnosis did not offer definitive evidence of assault.
In addition to the ‘triad’ diagnosis of internal bleeding in the eyes and brain, plus damage to the brain, the CPS says other “supporting evidence” will be now be required.
CPS policy adviser Karen Squibb-Williams said: “Each case will have its own individual facts and very careful consideration will be given in deciding whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and then in considering whether it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”