Coroner's charter for Buckinghamshire

Title Value
Last updated: 05 October 2020
Contents

General

Application

This charter tells you what standards of performance are to be expected in the Coroner’s Service, and what to do if something goes wrong. This charter relates to the Coroner’s Service in Buckinghamshire.

Legal position

The Buckinghamshire Coroner’s Service operates within a legal framework.

It is the duty of coroners to investigate deaths reported to them which appear to be due to violence, are unnatural, of unknown cause, or which occur in legal custody.

Conduct

The Buckinghamshire coroner and his staff will treat the bereaved and other members of the public courteously and sympathetically at all times. They will have regard (within the constraints of the statutory duties) to the deceased's religious faith and cultural traditions.

Duties will be discharged impartially, with a view to ascertaining the facts surrounding a death for the purpose of the coroner's statutory responsibilities.

Confidentiality will be preserved as far 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.

Correspondence

Written enquiries to the coroner will normally receive a reply within 5 working days of receipt. If the matter cannot be resolved within that time, an acknowledgement will be issued within 5 working days with an estimate of when a substantive reply will be available (usually not more than 28 days).

If your enquiry relates to an archived file, please note that the response time is within three working weeks.

 

Contact and enquiry points

The Buckinghamshire Coroner's Service is situated at:

Coroner’s Service
The Coroner’s Court
29 Windsor End
Beaconsfield
HP9 2JJ

Telephone: 01494 475 505
Fax: 01494 673760
Email: coroners@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

The office is open from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am to 3.30pm on Friday. Emergency out of office hours contact can be made through Thames Valley Police on 101.

Inquests are held at the above address. View our forthcoming inquests.

Those interested persons or witnesses attending court who have any special requirements, for example translating or interpreting services, are requested to contact the coroner's office at least eight weeks in advance of the hearing.

A map giving directions to the location of the court will only be sent by request, View more information about the Coroner's Service

The coroner’s staff will identify themselves by name in their dealings with members of the public. Assistant coroners act when the coroner is not available. In doing so, they exercise the full powers of the coroner. The service is also supported by volunteers from the Coroners Court Support Service.

The current team of coroners are:

  • Crispin Butler – Senior Coroner
  • Gemma Brannigan – Assistant Coroner
  • Alison McCormick – Assistant Coroner
  • Ian Wade QC – Assistant Coroner
  • Michael Walsh – Assistant Coroner

 

Enquiries not requiring an investigation

If a death is reported which does not need to be the subject of an investigation, a certificate giving the cause of death will be sent to the registrar of deaths within 2 working days of the completion of the coroner's enquiries.

Post mortems

When the coroner decides that a post mortem is necessary, wherever possible, the immediate next of kin whose details are known will be given:

  • an explanation why a post mortem is necessary and what is involved, if requested
  • advance notice of the arrangements, so that they may be represented (by a doctor) if they wish (but post mortem examinations must normally be undertaken as soon as possible)
  • a copy of the post mortem report, is automatically sent to the GP for the deceased who can then explain the findings to you

After considering the results of a post mortem the coroner may decide that an inquest is not necessary and that any formal investigation being undertaken can be discontinued.

 

Investigations and inquests

Interviews

If the coroner or a coroner’s officer needs to interview someone about a death, the aim will be to do so no more than once, at a time and place convenient to the person concerned.

If the person wishes, they may be accompanied during the interview by a relative, friend or other person. Every effort will be made to avoid causing any additional distress to close friends or relatives of the deceased.

A copy of any statement to be used at the inquest will be provided to the person who made it, on request, at least 5 working days in advance of the hearing (unless the coroner has good reason not to release it).

Administrative arrangements

The coroner will supply the following information to those asked to attend an inquest:

  • the date and time of each hearing (if more than one) at least 10 working days in advance (but note that the opening of the inquest - for taking evidence of identity and the medical cause of death - will generally take place within 3 working days of the report of the death, at which point the body will normally be released);
  • details of the telephone number and the name of a contact for

In addition the coroner will:

  • provide immediate relatives with a copy of a booked called ‘A guide to Coroners and Inquests’ (a copy is available at the bottom of this page) explaining the purpose and procedures of inquests;
  • advise those who express a wish to do so that they may attend an inquest as an observer;
  • explain to those called as a witness or juror how to claim for travel and subsistence expenses and for financial loss allowances;
  • ascertain any preference for swearing evidence (e.g. in accordance with specified religious beliefs, or an affirmation).

Timing

The coroner will endeavour to hold any necessary inquest at the earliest date, usually within 4 months of the death. However, there may be factors outside the coroner's control which can cause delay.

Where the inquest is likely to be delayed, the coroner will notify interested persons of the position, including the reason for any continuing delay, on a regular basis, unless the inquest has been formally adjourned to a specific date.

In more complex cases, it may be necessary to hold one or more Pre-Inquest Review Hearings to address any issues and set a timetable for the next activities or final hearing

Release of the body

The coroner will release the body of the deceased for the funeral at the earliest opportunity, normally within 3 working days of completion of the post mortem examination.

Where there are uncertainties as to the cause of death, or where the death is suspicious, it may be necessary to retain the body longer for further investigation.

The coroner will ensure that relatives are advised of potential delays and the reasons for them.

Disclosure of information

The coroner will, on request, provide to interested persons copies of the post mortem report, for which payment may be required. These will be provided not less than 10 working days in advance of the inquest.

Jurors

For jurors, the coroner will:

  • send a leaflet explaining the duties of a juror at an inquest, and provide other relevant information, 10 days beforehand;
  • provide an indication in advance of how long the jury service will

After an inquest

At the end of an inquest, the next of kin will be provided with an application form to apply for a death certificate from the Registration Service.

If, in the interests of preventing further fatalities, the coroner decides to report the matter to a relevant person or authority, he will try to do so within 10 working days of the inquest outcome. He will also send copies of his report to all the interested persons and the chief coroner.

A party to whom a report has been sent is usually required to respond within 56 days. A copy of any subsequent response will be sent within 5 days of the receipt wherever possible to interested persons and the chief coroner. The chief coroner may publish reports and responses.

The coroner may supply, on application, a copy of:

  • the inquest conclusion (although this is reproduced on any death certificate)
  • relevant documentation to someone who the coroner considers to be a proper person to have possession of it (this is a matter of the coroner’s discretion)

They may also supply a copy to an interested person of the documents produced in evidence.

These will be supplied within 25 working days of receipt of the prescribed fee (which will vary according to the number and size of the documents to be copied). The copies will not be issued until the fee has been received.

View information about the documents available and how to purchase

The coroner through the local authority will pay witness and juror expenses claims promptly. This will be within 10 working days of receipt of properly completed claims in line with the Coroner’s Allowances, Fees and Expenses Regulations 2013.

Applications for permission to remove a body abroad

The coroner will make every effort to complete his enquiries and decide such applications within 5 days of receipt of notice including weekends and bank holidays.

Treasure inquests

Coroners also have responsibility for enquiries into treasure finds. Find out more about treasure finds.

 

Feedback

Coroners will not normally comment upon nor enter into correspondence about any cases they have completed, nor any cases handled by other coroners.

Comments and suggestions for improvements to the Coroner Service are always welcome and can be made by contacting coroners@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

 

Complaints

The aim of the Coroner Service is to provide a service of excellence so that you should have no cause for complaint, but if you do, the complaint will be dealt with speedily and courteously.

Coroner decision or inquest complaints

Complaints about a coroner's decision or the outcome of an inquest can only be dealt with through the High Court.

The Coroner's Office will be able to explain the procedure on request, but cannot give legal advice (strict time limits apply).

Service or conduct complaints

All complaints about the administration of the Buckinghamshire Coroner’s Service, or the conduct of the staff in the Coroner’s Office, should be raised in the first instance with the Senior Coroner’s Officer by writing to her or telephoning her.

The Senior Coroner's Officer will reply to such complaints in accordance with the correspondence timescales.

Geraldine Trickett
Senior Coroner’s Officer for Buckinghamshire Coroner Service
29 Windsor End
Beaconsfield
Buckinghamshire
HP9 2JJ

If the Senior Coroner’s Officer fails to deal with the complaint satisfactorily, the complainant may refer it to the Head of Registration, Coroners, Archives & Trading Standards, email Wendy.Morgan-Brown@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

Complaints about the conduct of an assistant coroner should be raised in the first instance with the senior coroner concerned by writing to him or telephoning him. The senior coroner will reply to such complaints in accordance with the correspondence timescales.

If the senior coroner fails to deal with the complaint satisfactorily, the complainant may refer it to the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office 81 – 82 Queens Building, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand London, WC2A 2LL, email inbox@jcio.gsi.gov.uk.

 

Legislation and further information

Find more detailed information in the guide to coroner services

For more information call 01494 475505 or email. coroners@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

Find out more about the office of the chief coroner or what happens when a death is reported to a coroner

Relevant legislation

Coroners and Justice Act 2009
The Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013
The Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013
Treasure Act 1996
The Coroners Allowances, Fees and Expenses Regulations 2013

 

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