Supporting bereaved families during an inquest will be at the heart of the new coroner system.
Under new plans announced today coroners will:
- be subject to stricter time limits for completing an inquest;
- have to report any cases that last more than a year to the Chief Coroner;
- be required to release bodies for funerals within 30 days;
- provide greater access to materials, such as post-mortem reports, before the inquest takes place;
- be able to make use of new technologies so that vulnerable witnesses can give evidence via video link;
- be subject to new mandatory training requirements.
Justice Minister Helen Grant said:
'We need to end the postcode lottery that has plagued the coroner system for too long.
'We want a system that puts the needs of bereaved people first and foremost.
'I want to see all coroners delivering the same, efficient service across the board. We must be assured that coroners are conducting inquests quickly, with adequate care and with the right support available for relatives.'
The reforms will also half the time limit (from 56 to 28 days) which organisations have to respond to a coroner report on preventing future deaths (currently known as ?rule 43 reports?).
The proposals are part of a new consultation which sets out the next stage in the Government's ongoing overhaul of the coroner system.
In 2012 the Government also issued new guidance for bereaved people' which sets out the standards they can expect to receive from local coroner services.
View the consultation Implementing the coroner reforms in Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009