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Committee launch Coroner Service inquiry

8 July 2020

The Justice Select Committee has expressed concern that not enough progress has been made to improve the Coroner Service since reforms were introduced to the Service in 2009 and has launched an inquiry.

The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 introduced several changes including the appointment of a Chief Coroner. The changes were implemented in 2013. The Ministry of Justice reviewed the Act's effectiveness in 2015 but has not published the results of its review.

There are 88 coroner areas in England and Wales, each with different staffing levels for administration and investigations. Not all have a dedicated court to carry out inquests. Covid-19 will have placed additional pressures on the Service.

The Committee invites written evidence submissions on some or all of the following points via the Coroner Service inquiry page by Wednesday 2 September, 2020:

  1. The extent of unevenness of coroner services, including local failures, and the case for a National Coroners Service
  2. The Coroner Service's capacity to deal properly with multiple deaths in public disasters
  3. Ways to strengthen coroners' role in the prevention of avoidable future deaths
  4. How the Coroner Service has dealt with COVID 19
  5. Progress with training and guidance for coroners
  6. Improvements in services for the bereaved
  7. Fairness in the Coroner Service

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill MP, said:

“We are concerned about the adequacy of the Coroner Service across England and Wales. The Chief Coroner has said that many coroner areas have been neglected for years in the provision of resources. The 2009 Coroners and Justice Act was supposed to put the needs of bereaved people at the heart of the Coroner Service; for coroner services to be locally delivered within a framework of national standards; and to enable a more efficient system of investigations and inquests. The Ministry of Justice has not published its review of the Coroner Service and we are concerned that not enough progress has been made.

The Justice Committee last looked at this issue in 2009. Our new inquiry seeks to identify the extent of continuing problems with the Coroner Service and to recommend what can be done to improve the situation”.

Further information

Image: Ciaran Roarty/flickr