We are seeking to appoint a new senior coroner for North Yorkshire (east and west) and York.

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  • Do you embrace collaborative working with local organisations?

Role: Senior Coroner for North Yorkshire (east and west) and York
Salary: £128,489 per annum
Hours: Full-time (40 hours per week, plus hours necessary to meet the requirements of the post)
Location: Based in Northallerton but working across North Yorkshire and York

North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council are seeking to appoint a new Senior Coroner. This is to replace the current post-holder in North Yorkshire (east and west) who retires on 30 September 2020. This appointment is in anticipation of an amalgamation of the two current North Yorkshire areas and the City of York area. The post is to cover these three areas in anticipation of the merger into one area. 

The County Council is currently in discussions with City of York Council, which is the lead local authority for the City of York coroner area, in order to merge these three coroner areas into one larger North Yorkshire and York coroner area The successful candidate, therefore, has the potential to become the Senior Coroner for a larger area, subject to the Lord Chancellor making a statutory instrument merging the areas and to the parliamentary process. 

The Senior Coroner stands at the head of the local coroner service and statutory coroner area and takes the lead on coroner work and will be expected to conduct inquests which are difficult or complex or will be likely to attract significant publicity. 

What we expect from you

We are looking for an exceptional candidate with excellent proven leadership, organisational, management and efficiency skills, as well as experience of managing and embracing change. You will work closely with the local authority managers to ensure value for money, performance and financial efficiencies. Collaborative working with the local authorities, the police and other stakeholders is essential.

Do you have proven skills in conducting investigations and an understanding of court procedure?

You will be required to demonstrate knowledge and experience of coroner law and of basic medicine, have proven skills in conducting investigations and an understanding of court procedure. You will also need to demonstrate the excellent communication and interpersonal skills necessary to deal with sensitive situations.

Do you embrace collaborative working with local authorities, the police and other stakeholders?

Previous experience as a Coroner is essential. The successful candidate will have proven experience of running or shared running of a coroner’s jurisdiction including carrying out investigations, case management, and conducting inquests. 

The successful candidate will be a barrister or a solicitor or Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives and satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a five-year basis. They will be under the age of 70, have experience of working as a senior coroner, area coroner or assistant coroner and be subject to the appointment and eligibility conditions within the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (s.23 and Schedule 3).

Are you an excellent communicator with the interpersonal skills necessary to deal with sensitive situations?

Once a Coroner is appointed they are then a judicial office holder until they reach the age of 70 years (compulsory retirement age) unless they choose to resign or are removed by the Lord Chancellor with the agreement of the Lord Chief Justice prior to their 70th birthday. 

The North Yorkshire and York coroner area

The coroner area covers 8,759 square miles with a current population of around 813,100. Much of the area is classed as very rural with a low population density. North Yorkshire has an above average age profile with 23.7% of the population being aged 65 or over (the English average is 17.9%).

North Yorkshire and York form the largest geographical local authority area in England and Wales. From the coroner’s office in Northallerton it stretches 50 miles to the east, 55 miles to the south and 55 miles to the west. The largest population centres are York, Harrogate and Scarborough, with a further 28 large market towns throughout the county of North Yorkshire.

The economy is primarily agricultural and tourism / hospitality (particularly in York). York University provides the city with a vibrant student population.

North Yorkshire is also host to what will be one of the largest military garrisons in Europe at Catterick Garrison.

The coroner area contains sections of the M1 motorway as well as several major A-roads and main rail lines to London. There is one prison (a female open prison). There are regular reports of treasure.

The transport links north and south are excellent but can be constraining east and west. The bordering counties are Lancashire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Durham, Cumbria and Teesside.

The tourism economy, garrison and transport links do mean many bereaved families are from outside the area.

The number of deaths registered annually is around 8,200 with approximately 2,100 cases (26%) referred to the senior coroner. Post-mortem examinations are conducted at four main hospital trusts by hospital pathologists. In 2019, 387 inquests (19%) and 1,170 post-mortem examinations (58%) were held. The senior coroner is expected to aim to keep post-mortem levels to 30% of reported deaths or below.

There are three acute hospitals within the area, in Harrogate, York and Scarborough, as well as several community hospitals. 

Amalgamation

A business case will be submitted in 2020 to the Ministry of Justice and the Chief Coroner to request the amalgamation of the existing three areas of North Yorkshire (East), North Yorkshire (West) and the City of York. This proposal will be subject to consultation and agreement. It is not possible to give an estimate of the timescale for this and it is likely that this recruitment exercise will be completed before amalgamation.

The successful candidate will initially be appointed as Senior Coroner for the North Yorkshire (East), North Yorkshire (West) and City of York coroner areas.

Following the anticipated merger of the three coroner areas, the successful candidate would then be appointed as the senior coroner to the newly merged area. This will be subject to the consent of the Chief Coroner and the Lord Chancellor.

Office and court accommodation

The service is located in dedicated accommodation in Northallerton. The service is not co-located with the registration service which has nine offices across the North Yorkshire and York areas. There is no dedicated coroner’s court and inquests take place in York, Selby, Harrogate, Skipton, Scarborough and Northallerton. However, it is hoped to develop a dedicated courtroom in Northallerton in 2021.

The office opening hours are:

  • Monday to Thursday - 8.30am to 5pm
  • Friday - 8.30am to 4.30pm

Staff

Eight coroners’ officers are employed by North Yorkshire Police across the county and the City of York. The coroners’ officers are located in police stations in the major centres of population. There are three administrative staff employed by North Yorkshire County Council, co-located with the Senior Coroner.

The services use WPC as a case database and management system. You will be expected to use this system to carry out your duties as Senior Coroner.

Management

Accommodation, contracts, tendering, finance and support staff are managed by the coroner service manager, who is employed by North Yorkshire County Council in the central services department.

The coroner service manager works closely with the Senior Coroner and North Yorkshire Police on the delivery of the service to ensure those affected by the work of the Senior Coroner receive a high quality service. 

Daily operations

The Senior Coroner will work eight hours each day (Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm) at the office. This arrangement allows the service to provide a high level of service and performance to meet the requirements of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and the Chief Coroner’s guidance.

The Senior Coroner will also be available outside the above hours to deal with emergencies and other urgent requests, using the coroner team on a rota basis.

The administrative support staff are responsible for answering incoming calls from the public on weekdays from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday.

The coroner team

The Senior Coroner is the head of the local coroner service and leads the team of coroners. This team will include a full-time salaried area coroner who will be appointed post-merger and fee paid assistant coroners. Deputy cover will be provided by the area coroner or a nominated assistant coroner when the Senior Coroner is unavailable due to leave, sickness, training etc. and as additional support (by agreement with the local authority) in office and case work.

The Senior Coroner is expected to hold regular coroner team meetings.

The conditions of service applicable to the post are those set out in Schedule 3 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The Senior Coroner holds office on whatever terms are from time agreed by that coroner and North Yorkshire County Council. The Senior Coroner will not be an employee of the Council.

Salary

The annual salary for the post is for a basic 40 hours a week, together with the provision of an out of hours service according to the working requirements of the position.

Pension scheme

A Senior Coroner may join the Local Government Pension Scheme in accordance with any provisions relating to coroner appointments as applied to that scheme.

Hours of work

The post holder will be required to work the hours necessary to meet the requirements of the post. 

Following discussion and agreement with the relevant local authority, the Senior Coroner will arrange for an out of hours’ service. In accordance with The Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013, the Senior Coroner shall ensure that a coroner is available in the area at all times to address matters relating to an investigation into a death, which must be dealt with immediately and cannot wait until the next working day, including emergencies and other urgent requests.

The Senior Coroner is normally expected to live within one hour’s travelling distance of the office and to work on a daily basis during the week in the office provided. 

Holiday entitlement

The Senior Coroner will be expected to take an annual leave entitlement of 30 days.

Sick pay 

The senior coroner is entitled to full sick pay (subject to medical evidence). Cover for any sick leave will be provided by the area coroner or assistant coroner to meet the needs of the area. 

Payment of expenses 

Expenses will be paid in line with the County Council’s expenses policy.

Indemnity 

The County Council will indemnify the Senior Coroner for costs or damages in relation to legal proceedings in accordance with Regulation 17 of The Coroners Allowances, Fees and Expenses Regulations 2013.

Notice period

The Senior Coroner may resign from office by giving notice in writing to North Yorkshire County Council, however the resignation does not take effect unless and until it is accepted by the authority. The Senior Coroner will be expected to give six months’ notice of retirement or resignation to enable the County Council to comply with the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 in filling the vacancy. 

Politically restricted post 

This post is politically restricted under the terms of paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. 

The Guide to Judicial Conduct 

The Senior Coroner will comply with the standards as set out in the Guide to Judicial Conduct and other associated guidance.

Applications

Suitably qualified applicants are requested to email their CV, supporting statement and their signed declaration to johnathon.reardon@northyorks.gov.uk no later than midnight on Monday 20 July 2020.

It is essential important that your supporting statement fully addresses the following criteria:

  1. Leadership and authority.
  2. Efficient management and organisation.
  3. Up to date knowledge of coroner law and guidance.
  4. Coroner skills in the office and in court.
  5. Integrity, sound judgment and decisiveness.
  6. Collaborative working, with staff, relevant authority and police.
  7. Communication skills.
  8. Sensitivity to diversity and cultural requirements.

If you do not provide full supporting information, your application will be rejected. Please ensure you include your work, home and mobile contact numbers, home address and email addresses where applicable. Please note that correspondence will be via email unless otherwise stated.

All correspondence and details provided will remain confidential.

Employment references

Please include the name, address and contact details for two references. Candidates should also state their relationship to the referee and at least one should be your current / most recent employer / head of chambers / relevant authority. References will be taken up for short-listed candidates.

Evidence of qualifications

Candidates will be required to bring evidence of their qualifications to the interview.

Employment checks

The successful candidate will be required to undergo the Council’s pre-appointment medical screening.

Disciplinary proceedings and criminal convictions check

Due to the nature of the post, it is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and therefore any conviction, whether spent or unspent, must be declared. All applicants will be required to complete a declaration form which will need to be submitted with the application.

The successful candidate will be required to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service check. 

Applicants must specify in their application if they are subject of any complaint or disciplinary proceedings by any professional body to which they belong and clearly state the salary or fee payable. Applicants will also be asked in interview to declare any matters which they believe should be brought to the attention of the local authority, particularly bearing in mind the basic set of guiding principles in the Guide to Judicial Conduct.

Eligibility to work in the UK

Candidates must be eligible to work in the UK. The successful candidate will be required to provide original evidence of their eligibility to work in the UK.

Interview

You will be required to undertake a short presentation as part of the interview process.

Chief Coroner’s role in the process

The Chief Coroner or his nominee will be providing advice to the Council throughout the recruitment process, in particular so as to ensure that the process is fully transparent and fair. Although the Chief Coroner or his nominee may be at the interviews they are not a member of the panel and as such have no role in scoring candidates or voting for a candidate.

No appointment may be made unless the Chief Coroner and the Lord Chancellor consent to it.

Once appointed a Coroner becomes and remains an independent judicial officer holder.

Recruitment timetable

  • Closing date: 20 July 2020
  • Invitation to interviews: Sent out during week commencing 10 August 2020
  • Interview date: 28 August 2020

If you do not hear from us by 24 August 2020, please assume you have not been shortlisted.

Key documents

Interview panel

The interview panel will be:

  • Neil Irving, Assistant Director - Policy, Partnerships & Communities at North Yorkshire County Council
  • Robin Mair, General Manager - Registration Archives and Coroners at North Yorkshire County Council
  • Jane Milthorp, Practice Manager at City of York Council
  • Chief Coroner or nominee - observing 

We are aiming for the successful candidate to take up post around the 30 September 2020.

Apply

We are seeking to appoint a new senior coroner for North Yorkshire (east and west) and York.

Key dates

Closing date: 20 July 2020
Interview date: 28 August 2020

Contact us

If you wish to have an informal discussion or arrange a visit, please contact Robin Mair, General Manager - Registration, Archives and Coroners on 01609 533806 or Robert Turnbull, Senior Coroner on 01609 533843.

Apply for this role

Suitably qualified applicants are requested to email their CV, supporting statement and their signed declaration to johnathon.reardon@northyorks.gov.uk no later than midnight on Monday 20 July 2020.

It is essential that your supporting statement fully addresses the criteria provided in the 'recruitment and selection' section above, otherwise your application will be rejected.


Notification

The vacancy for this post has been notified to the Chief Coroner and Lord Chancellor (as required by statute).