The West Sussex Bereavement guide

The Coroner The Coroner is an independent judicial officer appointed by the local authority. Coroners investigate violent or unnatural deaths or deaths of an unknown cause or where the death has occurred in custody or otherwise in state detention. The Coroner’s investigations can take several forms and may result in the holding of an inquest. The Coroner’s officers The Coroner’s Officers work under the direction of the Coroner and liaise with bereaved families, the police, doctors, witnesses and funeral directors. They receive reports of deaths and make enquiries at the direction, and on behalf of the Coroner. Reporting a death to a Coroner Not all deaths need to be reported to the Coroner. In many cases the deceased’s own doctor, or a hospital doctor who has been treating them during the final illness, is able to issue a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (MCCD) without reference to the Coroner. If the Coroner has to investigate a death, the Registrar of Births and Deaths must wait for the Coroner to finish their enquiries before the death can be registered. These

enquiries may take time, so it is always best to check with the Coroner’s Office before any funeral arrangements are made. In most cases the decision to investigate will not hold up funeral arrangements. When is a death reported to a Coroner? Registrars of births and deaths, doctors the police and other agencies report deaths to a Coroner in certain circumstances. These include where it appears that: • no doctor attended the deceased during his or her last illness • the deceased was not seen for 28 days before death • the cause of death appears to be unknown • the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from the effects of an anaesthetic • the death was due to an industrial accident, disease or poisoning

• the death was unexpected • the death was unnatural • the death was due to violence or neglect

• the death was in other suspicious circumstances • the death occurred in prison, police custody or whilst being detained under the Mental Health Act


Bereavement Guide

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