A death must be reported to the Coroner if:
No doctor is able to provide a certificate, which conforms with the regulations, stating the cause of death, or
There are grounds for thinking the death may be have been due to an injury or some unnatural cause, e.g. industrial disease, the effects of drugs, an injury or the cause is not known
The Coroner has to carry out an enquiry into cases such as these to establish the cause of death, and this sometimes involves a post mortem examination. Depending on the information they get, the Coroner may decide either:
That the death is from natural causes - they will then give details to the Registrar of Births and Deaths so that the death can be registered
That an investigation should be commenced - this may lead to an inquest being held. Registration of the death can't take place until either an investigation has been discontinued or the inquest has been held. The Coroner's Officer will explain this to you.
In all cases, every effort will be made to avoid the need to change any funeral arrangements which may have been made. Unfortunately in some circumstances this cannot be helped.
Role of the Coroner's Officer
The Coroner's Officer helps the Coroner with the investigation into the cause of the death, and is responsible for contacting the nearest relative. They will supply the Coroner with all the information needed usually in the form of a detailed written statement, so that a decision can be made on what, if any, further action is necessary.
While the enquiry is continuing, the relative's link with the Coroner's Office throughout the enquiry is through the Coroner's Officer. Contact information will be supplied so that relatives can liaise with the office as regards such things as funeral arrangements. The Officer provides help and advice to avoid inconvenience or unnecessary distress.
As soon as the Coroner has reached a decision, the relatives will be told and advised about any steps they should take. Arrangements for the funeral cannot be made without confirmation from the Coroner's Officer that the body can be released for burial or cremation. In certain circumstance, an investigation may need to be commenced or an inquest may need to be opened before authorisation for disposal of the body can be given.
What the Coroner's Service Does
All work of the Coroner's Service is covered by the Guide to Coroner Services.
This Charter tells you what standards of performance you can expect from the Coroners Service and what to do if something goes wrong.
H M Coroner, their officers and administrative staff will treat all bereaved relatives and other members of the public courteously and sympathetically at all times, and will give respect to the deceased's religious faith and cultural traditions within the constraints of the statutory duties
- We try to be impartial as possible in finding out the facts surrounding a death which we have to do to comply with Coroner's statutory responsibilities
- We will keep sensitive information as confidential as possible within a system based on public court hearings. Explanations for the procedures adopted in particular cases will be given on request where the Coroner is satisfied that the person has a proper interest
Remove a body abroad - application for permission
The Coroner will make every effort to complete their enquiries and decide such application within five days of receiving notice including weekends and bank holidays.