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What is the North Yorkshire coroners' service charter?
The North Yorkshire coroners' service charter tells you what standards of performance are to be expected in the coroner service and what to do if something goes wrong. The charter is given below.
North Yorkshire coroners' service charter
This charter relates to the coroner service in North Yorkshire, eastern and western districts.
The North Yorkshire coroners' 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:
They then have to carry out certain related responsibilities to such deaths.
North Yorkshire coroners and their coroner's officers and other clerical staff will treat the bereaved and other members of the public courteously and sympathetically at all times. They will have regard, within the constraints of their 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, such responsibilities being limited to those narrow questions required by statute to be answered.
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 coroner is satisfied that the person has a "proper interest" in the terms of the Coroner's Act 1984.
Written enquiries to the coroner will normally receive a reply within ten working days of receipt. If the matter cannot be resolved within that time, an acknowledgement will be issued within five working days. This will include an estimate, if possible of when a more detailed reply will be sent.
Contact and enquiry points
The address of the North Yorkshire coroners' offices can be found at the bottom of this page.
Court hearings are held at many different venues depending on the type of inquest and the availability of courts and other suitable rooms in various locations. Inquests are not exclusively held in courts and whilst the venues generally always have toilet facilities, refreshments, separate waiting rooms and telephones, arrangements for the disabled are not always available. Those wishing to attend coroner's court that have any special requirements, for example a disability requiring wheelchair access, are requested to contact the coroner's officer in advance.
It is not possible to provide a general map giving directions to the many locations where the coroner might sit in North Yorkshire. However, when an inquest is fixed and the parties are advised of the location, the coroner's officer will always provide appropriate details of how to find the location if requested.
Coroners and their coroner's officers will identify themselves by name in their dealings with members of the public. Deputy and assistant coroners act when the coroner is not available. In doing so, they exercise 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 be sent to the registrar of deaths within five working days of the completion of the coroner's enquiries.
Before the inquest
If the coroner, the coroner's officers, other members of the staff or members of the police acting on the instructions of the coroner need to interview someone about a death, the aim generally 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. If requested, a copy of any statement to be used in the inquest will be provided to the person who made it, normally within five working days in advance of the hearing (unless the coroner has good reason not to release it).
When the coroner decides that a post mortem is necessary, wherever possible in normal circumstances, the immediate next of kin whose details are known will be given:
The inquest itself
The coroner will either personally or through his coroner's officer usually notify those asked to attend an inquest of the:
Timing of the inquest
The coroner will endeavour to hold any necessary inquests at the earliest possible date. Most inquests in North Yorkshire take place within four to six 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 or the coroner's officer 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 three working days. 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 will ensure the relatives are advised of potential delays and the reasons for them.
Disclosure of information
The coroner will, on request and at his discretion, provide to interested persons as defined by the Coroner's Act 1984 and the rules relating thereto, normally not less than five working days in advance of the inquest, copies of the post mortem report, for which payment may be required.
For jurors, the coroner or the coroner's officer will provide an indication in advance of how long the jury service is likely to last and if requested, can explain the duties of the juror at an inquest and provide any other relevant information prior to the inquest.
After the inquest
On the conclusion of the inquest, the next of kin will be provided with an explanation from the coroner's officer 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 will do so within 15 working days of the inquest outcome. He will also send copies of his letter to all the interested persons as previously defined. A copy of any subsequent reply will be sent within ten working days of its receipt.
The coroner will supply to an interested person as previously defined, on application, a copy of the evidence produced at the inquest on payment of the prescribed fee (which may vary according to the number and size of documents to be copied). An estimate of the fee will be provided in advance and payment will be required in advance before the documents are released to the interested person. The depositions will normally be provided within ten working days of the receipt of the prescribed fee.
The coroner and the local authority as appropriate will pay witness and juror's expenses claims promptly (usually within 28 days) following receipt of a properly completed application.
Applications for permission to remove a body abroad
The coroner will make every effort to complete his enquiries and decide such applications within five days of receipt of notice.
Coroners have responsibility for enquiries into treasure finds. Information leaflets about treasure are also available from the coroner's office.
Feedback and complaints
Coroners will not normally enter into correspondence about the cases they have completed, but comments and suggestions on improving the coroner service are always welcome. Please contact the coroner's office at the address below. The aim of the coroners' 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 the coroner's decision or the outcome of an inquest can only be dealt with through the High Court. The coroner's office will be able to explain the procedure on request but cannot give any legal advice.
All complaints about the administration of the North Yorkshire coroner service, the work of the undertakers, the services of the hospital, or the conduct of individual coroners or their staff, should be raised in the first instance with the coroner concerned by writing to him or telephoning him at his address. 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 Home Office:
Telephone: 0207 273 2888/3574
The Home Office has no disciplinary powers or power to award compensation but in appropriate cases, may refer the complaint to the Lord Chancellor who is responsible for the discipline of coroners.
The coroner's and Council's performance will be monitored regularly against the standards detailed in this document.
Further copies of this charter may be obtained from the coroner's office.
General information is contained in the Home Office leaflet "The work of the coroner", also available from the coroner's office or from the coroner's officers.