THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset is among 18 PCCs to have signed an open letter to the Ministry of Justice asking for the government to reassess the law on assisted dying.

Martyn Underhill, who leads on the issue of suicide nationally for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), coordinated the letter, which has been sent to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland.

Mr Underhill is leading the campaign on behalf of Ron Hogg, the Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner for Durham, who has motor neurone disease and wishes for the law to be changed to allow him to end his life.

The letter reads: "We believe it is time for a renewed look at the functioning of the existing law on assisted dying. 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."

The letter refers to several recent high profile cases, including that of Mavis Eccleston. The great-grandmother was acquitted by a jury in September after being charged with murder for helping her husband, who was suffering from advanced bowel cancer, end his life.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, helping someone end their life is a criminal offence under the Suicide Act of 1961. Those convicted could face up to 14 years in prison. The letter says that this blanket ban "has caused distress, confusion and pain for dying people, their loved ones, and even the investigating police officers themselves."

It adds: "The cost of these investigations - financial, emotional and societal - cannot be easily dismissed."

Dignity in Dying is a national campaign working across the UK to legalise the option of assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults. Sarah Wootton, CEO of the organisation, said: "We welcome the letter from the Police and Crime Commissioners and are pleased to have their support for a new investigation into the functioning of the current law. Everyone should back this demand for a call for evidence so we can fully understand the law’s effects and find a way to improve the situation."

Assisted dying is currently legal in some US states, Canada, and Switzerland.