The Cornwall Coroner
Please use the menu below for information about the Cornwall coroner.
- General information
- Contact and enquiry points
- Inquiries not requiring an inquest
- Before the inquest
- After the inquest
- Treasure inquests
- Feedback and Complaints
This charter tells you what standards of performance are to be expected in the coroner service, and what to do if something goes wrong. This charter relates to the coroner service in Cornwall.
The Cornwall Coroner Service operates within a legal framework. It is the duty of Coroners to investigate deaths which are reported to them and which appear to be due to violence, or are unnatural, or are sudden and of unknown cause, or which occur in legal custody, and to carry out certain related responsibilities.
Cornwall Coroners and their Officers will treat the bereaved and other members of the public, courteously and sympathetically at all times, and 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 Coroners are satisfied that the person has a proper interest.
Written enquiries to the Coroner from a properly interested person will normally receive a reply within 10 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 sent.
Contact and enquiry points
The contact details for the Cornwall Coroners' office can be found on the right hand side of this page. The office is open from 9.00 am to 1.00pm and from 1.30pm to 5.00 pm Monday to Thursday and from 9.00 am to 1.00pm and from 1.30pm to 4.30pm on Friday with the exception of public holidays.
Court hearings may be heard at Municipal Buildings, Boscawen Street, Truro and Bodmin Magistrates' Court or at other appropriate venues. The Courts have toilets, separate waiting facilities and telephones. The venues are chosen having regard to the balance of convenience for those attending. Those wishing to attend Court who have disabilities are requested to notify the Coroner's office as soon as possible so that the most suitable venue can be chosen. Those wishing to attend Court who have any special requirements including, for example, translating or interpreting services are also requested to contact the Coroner's office in advance.
A map giving directions to the location of the Court is available from the person summoning your attendance or from the Coroners' office.
Coroners and their staff will identify themselves by name in their dealings with members of the public. Deputy and Assistant Deputy Coroners act when the Coroner is not available. In doing so, they exercise the full powers of the Coroner..
Inquiries not requiring an inquest
If a death is reported which does not need to be the subject of an Inquest, a Certificate giving the cause of death will normally be sent to the Registrar of Deaths within 5 working days of the date of the Report to the Coroner. If there is likely to be any delay in sending the Certificate to the Registrars, the Coroner or the Coroner's Officer will advise the relatives and explain the reason for the delay.
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, usually within 24 hours of the discovery of the death). Notice may not always be practicable.
- A copy of the post mortem report, if requested. (A copy of the post mortem report is normally sent to all deceased’s General Practitioners as soon as the Coroner's enquiries have been completed. It should be noted that the Coroners' Officers and administrative staff are not medically qualified and an interpretation of the report should be sought from a medical practitioner).
Before the inquest
If the Coroners or their Officers need 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 on the day of the Inquest to the person who made it. A copy of the statement may be supplied at the Coroner’s discretion to the Witness in advance of the hearing if requested (unless the Coroner has good reason not to release it).
The Coroner will notify those asked to attend an Inquest:-
- The date and time of each hearing (if more than one) at least 10 working days in advance, except in cases of urgency or where shorter notice is acceptable (but note that the formal opening of the Inquest - for taking evidence of identity and the medical cause of death - will take place as soon as possible and normally within 7 working days of the report of the death, at which point the body will normally be released).
- Details of the location of the Court where the Inquest will be held and the facilities which will be available there.
- Details of the telephone number and a named contact for enquiries.
- Advise of the availability of a leaflet 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 beforehand.
- 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 (eg in accordance with specified religious beliefs, or on affirmation).
The Coroner will endeavour to hold any necessary Inquest at the earliest possible date. Most Inquests will take place within 9 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 reasons for any continuing delay, on a regular basis, unless the Inquest has been formally adjourned to a specific date.
Release of the body
The Coroner will release the body of the deceased for the funeral at the earliest opportunity normally within 5 working days after the report of the death is received. 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 (usually through the Coroners' Officers) will ensure that relatives are advised of potential delays and the reasons for them.
Disclosure of information
The Coroner will promptly on request and at his/her discretion, provide to properly interested persons, in advance of the Inquest, copies of the post mortem report on payment of the prescribed fee.
For Jurors, the Coroner will:
- Send a leaflet explaining the duties of a Juror at an Inquest, and providing other relevant information 10 days beforehand.
- Provide an indication in advance of how long the Jury service will last.
After the inquest
On the conclusion of the Inquest, the next of kin will be provided with a written explanation about how, where and when a copy of the Death Certificate may be obtained.
If, in the interests of preventing further fatalities the Coroner decides to report the matter to a relevant person or authority, he/she will do so within 14 working days of the Inquest outcome. Copies of the Coroner's letters will also be sent to all properly interested persons.
The Coroner will supply within 10 days of request by a properly interested person, on application, a copy of the Inquest verdict and will supply a copy of the Notes of Evidence and of documents produced in evidence within 42 days of receipt of the prescribed fee (which will vary according to the number and size of the documents to be copied). An estimate of the fee will be provided in advance.
The Coroner will normally pay Witness and Jury expenses at the conclusion of the Inquest. Exceptionally it may be necessary for large or unusual payments to be submitted to Cornwall Council who will arrange direct payment from the County Treasurer.
Application for permission to remove a body abroad
The Coroner will make every effort to complete his/her enquiries and decide such applications within 5 days of receipt of notice excluding weekends and Bank Holidays.
Coroners have responsibility for enquiries into treasure finds.
Feedback and complaints
Coroners will not normally enter into correspondence about the cases they have completed, but comment and suggestions on improving the Coroner service are always welcome. Please contact the Coroners' office at the address given earlier. 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.
- Complaints about a Coroner's decision or the outcome of an Inquest can only be dealt with through the High Court. The Coroners' office will be able to explain the procedure on request, but cannot give legal advice.
- All complaints about the administration of the Cornwall Coroners' service, or the conduct of individual Coroners or their staff should be raised in the first instance with the Coroner concerned by writing to him/her or telephoning him/her at the address given earlier. The Coroner will reply to such complaints in accordance with the time scales set out above.
- If the Coroner fails to deal with the complaint satisfactorily, the complainant may refer it to the Ministry of Justice,Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Team, Area 4.37, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ. Telephone 020 3334 3555). The Ministry of Justice has no disciplinary powers or power to award compensation but may, in appropriate cases, refer the complaint to the Chief Coroner who is responsible for the discipline of Coroners.
The Coroners' and Council's performance will be monitored regularly against the standards detailed on this page.
Further copies of this charter may be obtained from the Coroners' office. General information is contained in the Ministry of Justice leaflet, "Guide to Coroners and Inquests", which is also available from the Coroners' office. The Ministry of Justice booklet " Jury Service at an Inquest" can also be obtained from the Coroners' office.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust produce a leaflet called 'Help for you following a bereavement'.