THE acting Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for County Durham and Darlington has come out in support on an inquiry into assisted dying laws.

Steve White, acting PCC for Durham Police, is supporting a campaign calling for an urgent review into the UK's assisted dying laws in the wake of the death of former PCC Ron Hogg, who died last month of motor neurone disease.

The Compassion is Not a Crime campaign by Dignity in Dying comes as the issue is due to be debated in Parliament on Thursday.

Mr White said: “I believe, as Ron did, that it is not working as well as it could, and I believe it is time for a renewed look at the UK’s assisted dying legislation.

“Ron was not able to live to see the change he so desperately wanted, but I hope the Justice Secretary will heed his words and launch an inquiry into legislation many view as harsh and out-of-date.”

Mr Hogg used his final months to campaign for a change in the law and, writing to the Justice Secretary to express concerns regarding current legislation.

Assisted dying is banned in the UK and a person found guilty of “assisting a suicide” can be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

There were two recorded crimes of ‘aiding and abetting a suicide’ in the Durham Police area between 2012 and 2019, according to a Freedom of Information request by Dignity in Dying.

Mike Barton, Durham Police's former chief constable, is also backing the campaign.

He said: "The police can only really enforce laws which command wide public support. When there is clear injustice in the arrest of caring and traumatised relatives, nobody gains; prolonging a cruel illness is surely the greater sin.

"I don’t think the public want us to use our valuable resources to turn grieving family members into criminals. Surely it’s time for a review of the UK’s assisted dying legislation.”

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “Compassion should not be a crime, but under the UK’s blanket ban on assisted dying, it is.

"Not only are dying people denied the right to die on their own terms, forcing them to resort to drastic measures at home and abroad, but their family members are then criminalised for acts of love.

“An inquiry would enable the views of those most affected to be heard – terminally ill people, their loved ones, police and public services."

"We call on the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, to launch a call for evidence as a matter of urgency. Our outdated assisted dying laws deserve to be scrutinised, not dying people or their loving families."