Coroner's OfficeLast updated: 22 April 2013 09:39 UK
HM Coroner, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire
The Coroner serving the Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, Havant and East Hampshire Councils’ areas is David C Horsley, LL.B, Solicitor. His office is located at the Guildhall, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AJ.
Public opening hours are 9.00 – 4.30, Monday to Friday. The office telephone numbers are 02392 688328, 02392 688329 or 02392 688330 and the email address is email@example.com. The out of hours emergency number is 0845 0454545.Who are the Coroners?
Coroners are independent judicial officers in England and Wales who must follow laws which apply to Coroners and inquests. Each Coroner has a deputy and one of them must be available at all times to deal with matters relating to the inquests and post mortems.
What do Coroners do?
Coroners inquire into deaths reported to them which appear to be violent, unnatural, or of sudden and unknown cause. The Coroner will seek to establish the medical cause of death; if the cause remains in doubt after a post mortem, an inquest will be held.
Taking the body abroad or bringing it back to this country
If you wish to take the body abroad, you must give written notice to the Coroner. The Coroner will tell you within four days whether further enquiries are needed.
If you wish to bring the body back to England or Wales, the Coroner may need to be involved. In certain circumstances, an inquest may be necessary. You can ask for advice from your local Coroner’s office.
What is the role of the Coroner’s Officer?
Coroners’ Officers work under the direction of Coroners and liaise with bereaved families, police, doctors and funeral directors.
Are all deaths reported to the Coroner?
No In most cases, a GP or hospital doctor can certify the medical cause of death and the death can be registered by the Registrar of Births and Deaths in the usual way. However, registrars must report deaths to the Coroner in certain circumstances. For example: if a doctor cannot give a proper certificate of a cause of death; if the death occurred during an operation; if the death was due to industrial disease; or if the death was unnatural or due to violence, or in other suspicious circumstances.
What is a Post Mortem examination?
A post mortem is a medical examination of a body carried out for the Coroner by a pathologist of the Coroner’s choice. Coroners will give notice of the need for a post mortem unless this is not practicable or would unduly delay the examination. The consent of the next-of-kin is not required for a Coroner’s post mortem, but the next-of-kin are entitled to be represented at the examination by a doctor of their choice.
When can the funeral be held?
If a post mortem reveals that the death was due to natural causes and that an inquest is not needed, the Coroner will release the body and you can register the death. The funeral can then take place.
If there is to be an inquest, the Coroner can normally issue a burial order or cremation certificate after the post mortem is completed. If charges have been brought against somebody for causing the death, it may be necessary to have a second post mortem or further investigations, and the release of the body and the funeral arrangements will be delayed.
Issue of the Death Certificate
If the death was due to natural causes, the Coroner will inform the Registrar and the death can be registered and a death certificate issued. But, if there is to be an inquest, an interim certificate of fact of death can be issued by the Coroner to assist in the administration of the estate. When the inquest is completed, the Coroner will notify the Registrar. A death certificate can then be obtained.
What is an inquest?
An inquest is an inquiry into who has died and how, when and where the death occurred. An inquest is not a trial; the Coroner must not blame anyone for the death.
An inquest is usually opened primarily to record that a death has occurred and to identify the dead person It will then be adjourned until any police enquiries and the Coroner’s investigations are completed. The full inquest can then be resumed.
Attendance at an inquest
When the Coroner’s investigations are complete, a date for the resumed inquest is set and the people entitled to be notified will be told, if their details are known to the Coroner. Inquests are open to the public and journalists are usually present.
Witnesses called to give evidence
Coroners decide who should give evidence as a witness. Anyone who believes they may help, can offer to give evidence by informing the Coroner. Anyone who believes a particular witness should be called, should inform the Coroner. Witnesses can be compelled to attend.
Inquests with a Jury
The inquest will be held with a jury if the death occurs in prison, in custody, at work or if further deaths may occur in similar circumstances. In these cases, the Coroner decides matters of law and the jury decides the verdict.
Questioning of witnesses
Inquests do not determine blame and the verdict must not identify someone as having criminal or civil liability. Possible verdicts include: natural causes, accident, suicide, unlawful or lawful killing, industrial disease, and open verdicts (where there is insufficient evidence for any other verdict).
The Coroner may also report the death to any appropriate person or authority, if action is needed to prevent more deaths in similar circumstances.