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HM Coroner`s Service

The Coroner's Service is possibly the definitive 'change of circumstances' service, and it is used at one of the most difficult and emotional periods in life, where a member of the family, or a friend, has died through tragic or unexplained circumstances.

 

It is the role of HM Coroner to ascertain the circumstances surrounding certain types of death, and to inquire and investigate to establish certain facts.  These are, in basic terms - who, when, where and how.  The coroner will establish:

Who - the identity of the deceased
When -  When the death occurred
Where - the location of the death
How - the cause and circumstances of the death

A Coroner's role is not to apportion blame, only to establish the facts.  It is for others, based on the findings of the Coroner, to then look to establish if there was any wrong doing, criminal or otherwise, or where negligence may have taken place.

All Coroners are 'independent judicial officers' and not employed by the local authority.  They are independent of both Local and Central Government, and are required to act in accordance with legislation.  They therefore answer only to the Chief Coroner for England & Wales, the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chancellor.  Ultimately their role is to hold inquests on behalf of the Queen.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

The Coroners Service in Cumbria has moved to a new electronic case management system. This is part of a long-term plan to further improve the administration and management of coronial cases, and help with a wider program within both the coroners service and local authority to use electronic communication methods, moving away from paper based systems and records.
Canwe ask that all written correspondenceto the Coroners Service is now sent by email rather than post or fax.The email address is: hmcoroner@cumbria.gov.uk

If a death occurs in any of the following circumstances, the death of a person may be reported to the Coroner.

  • When the death was unexplained or where there are suspicious circumstances, or when the cause of death is unknown.

  • When the death may be due to an industrial injury or disease, or due to an accident, violence, negligence or abortion, or to any kind of poisoning.

  • When the death occurred in police custody, in prison or in an institution of some type.

  • When the deceased has not been attended to by a doctor during their last illness, or when the doctor attending the deceased did not see them within 14 days before death or after death.

  • When the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from the effect of an anaesthetic.

A death occurring in any of the above circumstances is usually reported to the Coroner by the police, or by a doctor called to the death.  It may also be reported by a doctor who was treating the deceased if the death was unexpected.  Anyone can report a death to the Coroner including family members or a Registrar

Once any death has been reported to the Coroner a Registrar cannot register the death until the Coroner's enquiries or investigations have been completed.

The primary legislation under which the Coroner's Service operates is the Coroners Act 1988 and the Coroners Rules 1984.  More recently there has been the addition of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which sets out a number of changes to modify and standardise the Coroner's Services in England.

All Coroners are independent judicial officer holders, and are not employed by the local authority.  The local authority cannot review a Coroner's performance, enforce practices, procedure or policy, or invoke any disciplinary procedures.  Coroners answer to the Chief Coroner, the Ministry of Justice and ultimately the Lord Chancellor.

The provision of a Coroner's Service is a legal and statutory function of a local authority.  It has no discretion and must provide the appropriate resources, funding and support to enable a Coroner to carry out any statutory role and responsibilities.

What you can expect from the Coroner's Service 

  • An explanation of the role of the Coroner

  • Help in understanding the cause of death of the person who died

  • What further action may take place once the case is under the jurisdiction of the Coroner

  • Explain the process or procedures that take place

  • Inform you of your rights and responsibilities

  • Endeavour to take into account your wishes, feelings and expectations, including religious beliefs and traditions relating to post mortems, mourning and funerals

  • Keep in regular contact and provide any relevant or appropriate contact information

  • Respect individuality and privacy

  • Treat you with fairness, sensitivity, dignity and respect

  • Accommodate and make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities

  • Treat children and young people in a way appropriate to their age

  • Help find further support if needed

  • Provide information about making a complaint 

What the Coroner and his representatives/staff expect from bereaved or families

  • To cooperate fully and to provide promptly any information requested

  • To treat information provided or disclosed in confidence

  • To inform the Coroner or their representative as soon as possible of any relevant considerations or requests you may have throughout the process

  • To provide up to date contact information so you can be contacted promptly

  • To inform the coroner of any concerns, worries or comments you may have about the death

  • To treat the Coroner and his support staff with courtesy and respect

  • To dress appropriately when attending an inquest

The Coroner may be able to establish that a death was due to natural causes, and a doctor will be able to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD).  If this is the case then, with the appropriate paperwork, the death can be registered at a registration office.

However, in many cases the Coroner will require a post-mortem to be carried out.  This is a medical examination of the body to find out more about the cause of death.  If a post mortem is required then the Coroner will arrange for the deceased to be taken to the local hospital for this to be carried out.  The family or next of kin cannot object to a post-mortem ordered by the Coroner, but the Coroner will try to take into account any religious or other objections.

If a post-mortem shows that the death was due to natural causes the Coroner will issue a notification of this so that the death can be registered.  However, if the Coroner establishes the death was not due to natural causes then he is obliged to hold a formal inquest.

The Coroner holds a medical/legal enquiry into the death of the deceased, then an inquest is required.  This is an investigation to establish facts and a public court hearing, not a trial where blame is apportioned.

The purpose of an inquest is to establish the identity of the deceased, when, where and how the death occurred and to establish the facts required by the Registrar.  In some cases the Coroner may be able to open, then adjourn the inquest and issue paperwork to allow a funeral to take place.

An inquest adjourned will be re-opened at a later date to continue investigations and to determine the circumstances surrounding the death.  This may involve witnesses being called, who are legally obliged to attend. 

Further information regarding the Coroner and an inquest

Once an inquest has been held the Coroner will send a report to the Registrar in the district where the death occurred.  The Registrar will then register the death.  This can be done without anyone having to attend to do so.

The Coroner will inform the Registrar of the person who should be notified that the death has been registered.  The next of kin or relatives may then need to purchase some additional death certificatesfor legal purposes such as Banks, Insurance or Pension Schemes.

Each certificate is a certified copy of the entry in the Death Register and costs £ 4.00 at the time of the initial request after inquest or £ 10.00 thereafter.  Where there is a delay between the death and the holding of an inquest it is possible for the coroner to issue interim death certificates if requested.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
The Coroners Service in Cumbria has moved to a new electronic case management system. This is part of a long-term plan to further improve the administration and management of coronial cases, and help with a wider program within both the coroners service and local authority to use electronic communication methods, moving away from paper based systems and records.
Can  we ask that all written correspondenceto the Coroners Service is now sent by email rather than post or fax.The email address is:

hmcoroner@cumbria.gov.uk  

Where practical all other enquiries for, or to provide information to, the Coroners Service should be made via email rather than by telephone. Where required this will enable us to provide more detailed and fuller responses to any such enquiries.

CONTACT INFORMATION

For all information or enquiries concerning specific cases where deaths have been referred to HM Coroner or details regarding any inquests (current/ongoing or past), please contact the coroners officer direct in the appropriate area as detailed below, (or if unavailable, please contact the Administration & Support Team). 

HM Coroners:

Mr David Roberts
HM Senior Coroner (Cumbria Area) 

Ms. Kally Cheema -
HM Area Coroner (Cumbria Area)

Mr Robert Chapman, Mr Paul O'Donnell, Mr Simon Ward, Dr Nicholas Shaw, Mr John Siddle & Mrs Claire Madden -
Assistant HM Coroners (Cumbria Area)


Contact details:

HM Coroners Office
Fairfield
Station Road
Cockermouth
Cumbria
CA13 9PT

(Opening hours: Mon to Fri - 9am to 5pm)

We would respectfully request that all enquiries and correspondence, including the submission of any documentation or written information, are made via email. The email address is as follows: hmcoroner@cumbria.gov.uk

However, the office can be contacted on Tel: 0300 303 3180 if the circumstance require.

 

Service Management and Administration

Under current legislation the Coroners Service is managed by Cumbria County Council, and the overall responsibility for the service sits with:

Ms. Angela Jones
Assistant Director - Economy & Environment


For any general enquiries regarding the overall administration and/or management of the Coroners Service in Cumbria (NOT regarding information about any specific deaths reported to the coroner, individual cases or inquests as you need to contact the HM Coroner regarding these - see below) please contact:

Email:cumbriacoronersservice@cumbria.gov.uk

By post:

Cumbria County Council
Cumbria House
107-117 Botchergate
Carlisle
Cumbria 
CA1 1RD 

Telephone:  01228 606060   

Further information about the coroners service can be found at:

UK Government website section relating to Coroners

Ministry of Justice Guide to the Coroners and Inquests, and Charter for Coroners Services

Coroner's Support Service

The Coroners' Courts Support Service is a registered charity whose volunteers give emotional and practical support to families and other witnesses attending Inquests at the following Coroner's Courts:

Feedback

All Coroners are committed to providing a service which meets the needs of the bereaved / next of kin, and they welcome any feedback (including when the service has performed well).  You should direct this to the Coroner who dealt with the case.

Making a complaint

Coroners are independent judicial officer holders, and are not employed by the local authority.  The local authority cannot review a Coroners performance, enforce practices, procedure or policy, or invoke any disciplinary procedures.  Coroners answer to the Chief Coroner, the Ministry of Justice and, ultimately, the Lord Chancellor.

If you are unhappy with any aspect of the service you have received in the first instance please contact the appropriate HM Coroner, as it is often more productive and easier for all concerned if issues can be resolved locally, and direct with the Coroner.

However, if finding an appropriate resolution direct with the Coroner is not seen as an option, below are some further details and contacts which may be of use when pursuing the matter further.

HM Coroners

Any complaints regarding the HM Coroners need to be directed to The Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC).

There is no charge for complaining to the OJC and their contact details are as follows:

The Office for Judicial Complaints
3rd Floor - 3.01-3.03
11 Tothill Street
LONDON
SW1H 9LH

Email: inbox@ojc.gsi.gov.uk

Enquiry Line: 0203 334 0145

Fax: 020 3334 0031

Complaints can also be made online via the Office for Judicial Complaints website

Alternatively, you can download the OJC complaints form and send it to the OJC by fax, post or email.