The post of Coroner is one of this country’s oldest judicial posts and often one of the most misunderstood. Coroners are appointed by the Lord Chancellor but are generally paid for by the local authority for the area they serve.
Inevitably the efficiency of Coroners’ services is dependant upon the funds allocated for such things as pathology services, Court space, administrative back up and the availability of Deputy Coroners. Accordingly the service does tend to be variable across different areas, although all should meet minimum standards.
Coroners are charged with the task of investigating unnatural or unexpected deaths and also deaths that occur in custody. The way in which Coroners work is governed by a set of regulations. Those regulations have recently been updated and are available here.
Available today, however, are two new publications the ‘Guide to Coroner Services’ and ‘Coroner investigations – a short guide’ which are aimed at giving practical assistance to bereaved families both as to the work of a Coroner but also as to the basic standards of service that should be expected.
The Government’s professed aim is to ‘put bereaved loved ones at the heart of the Coroner system’ and the new guides should ‘set out exactly what people who have lost loved ones should expect at an inquest and where they can go for support and advice’
Admirable aims, no doubt, but local authorities faced with the need to make huge savings may find it difficult to adequately finance the Coroners’ service to meet those aspirations.
If you need support and advice in relation to sudden deaths or inquests please contact a member of our specialist team on 0800 316 8892.