The Cornwall Coroner
Last updated: 18/02/2013
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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
Duties will be discharged impartially, with a view to ascertaining
the facts surrounding a death for the purpose of the Coroner's
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
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 Cornwall Coroners' office is situated at 14 Barrack Lane,
Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2DW. 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. The telephone number is 01872 261612 and the fax
number is 01872 262738. Out of office hours contact can be made
through most Police stations within the district through the
central switchboard of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary on
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 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
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
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
- 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
- Ascertain any preference for swearing evidence (eg in
accordance with specified religious beliefs, or on
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Department for Work And Pensions
produce a leaflet (DWP1027) called 'What to do after a death
in England and Wales'.
Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust produce a leaflet called
'Help for you following a bereavement'.