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Insight

Chief Coroner publishes first Annual Report

The Chief Coroner has published the Annual Report for 2013-2014. In addition to reviewing recent development and statutory reforms which came into force in July 2013, there are some new reforms being proposed by the Chief Coroner which aim to achieve greater consistency in a number of areas for coroners across the country.

Firstly in the area of training, the Chief Coroner is implementing a compulsory training programme for all coroners, including induction training for those joining the profession, with plans for a Coroners Conference in 2015. Also the Coroners Act 2009 now makes retirement at the age of 70 mandatory for those entering the profession, where previously it was a lifetime appointment. The Chief Coroner is encouraging older Coroners to retire by the age of 75. In terms of appointments, all Coroner appointments will be made by the local authorities, rather than some being made by the Chief Coroner and some by the local authorities, however they all require the consent of the Chief Coroner. The appointment process for coroners is to become more transparent as well, with posts being advertised widely and the recruitment process being monitored by the Chief Coroner.

In investigations and inquests, the Chief Coroner has provided guidance and advice to be followed including the release of confidential medical records, deprivation of liberty safeguarding orders, the use of the new power to discontinue an investigation,

the new power to require by notice a person to make a statement, produce a document or attend court, the use of written evidence and admissions at inquests, disclosing material to the media, and how to stop the media from publishing the names of children.

Finally the Chief Coroner has made it mandatory to write a report to prevent future deaths, in cases where it appears that the circumstances described would lead to deaths in future, and has produced a template that will make it easy for Coroners to follow when writing these reports.