When wasting police time is being considered as the appropriate charge, a prosecution is more likely to be required where:
- public / police resources being diverted for the purposes of investigation for a sufficient period;
- where a substantial cost is incurred – for example, where expensive scientific examination has to be undertaken;
- considerable distress is caused to the accused by the reporting;
- where the false report alleges that a particularly grave offence has been committed;
- there is significant premeditation in the making of the report; or
- the complainant persists with the allegation, even when challenged.
It follows that, in order to make such an assessment, it will be important that prosecutors are presented with all background evidence available about the suspect, such as any mental health issues or learning difficulties, their age and intellectual maturity, their mental capacity in understanding the nature of the allegation made and whether they have any other vulnerabilities, such as being a victim of sexual or domestic abuse, or if they misuse any substances. The vulnerability of the complainant needs to be properly understood and taken into consideration. Prosecutors should ask whether there any indication that further support / intervention is required over and above a criminal justice outcome?