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Coroner's Service Charter

This document describes the services that are available from the Powys Coroner.   

It covers procedure before, during and after inquests, post mortems, the role of jurors, treasure and how to give feedback and make complaints.

 

CONTENTS    

General

Application

Statement of legal position

Conduct

Correspondence

Contact and enquiry points

Inquiries not requiring an Inquest  

Before the Inquest     

Interviews

Post Mortems

Administrative arrangements

Timing

Release of the body

Disclosure of information

Jurors    

At The Inquest

The start of the Inquest

The end of the Inquest  

After the Inquest

Treasure Inquests

Feedback and Complaints                                                                     

Performance                                                                                                           

Further information

General

APPLICATION

1. 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 Powys.

LEGAL POSITION 

2. The Powys Coroner Service operates within a legal framework. It is the duty of the Coroner to investigate deaths which are reported to him 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.

CONDUCT

3. The Powys Coroner, his Officers (who are Police Officers) and his staff 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 traditions.

4. Duties will be discharged impartially, with a view to ascertaining the facts surrounding a death for the purpose of the Coroner’s statutory responsibilities.

5. 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. Correspondence

6. Written enquiries to the Coroner 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 7 working days with an estimate of when a substantive reply will be sent.

CONTACT and ENQUIRY POINTS

7. The Powys Coroner is Mr Andrew Barkley. 

In the first instance all enquiries should be directed to the Coroner's Officer Mr Martin Follows and not to the Coroner or his deputy.

The Coroner's office is situated at Divisional Police Headquarters, Plas y Ffynon, Cambrian Way,Brecon LD3 7HP.  

The office is open   8-00am to 4-00pm.  Monday to Friday 

Telephone 0845 330 2000 ext 50681 (Coroner's Officer)

Fax: 01874 620024

Out of office hours, contact with the Coroner can be made through your local police station, a police officer will contact the Coroner on your behalf. Dyfed Powys Police have a central non-emergency contact centre - telephone 0845 3302000 and ask to be put through to your local police station.  

The Assistant Coroners are - Mr Graeme Hughes & Mrs Sarah Jayne Richards 

He can be contacted via the Coroner's Officer or the e-mail address coroner.admin@rctcbc.gov.uk

A website containing

  • details of current and completed Inquests,
  • an explanation of coronial involvement following a sudden death,
  • answers to frequently asked questions,
  • the purpose of an Inquest,
  • how an Inquest works,
  • how to research deaths inquested in Powys,
  • what to do if you think you have found Treasure,
  • Treasure Inquests
  • links to the Coroners Society, Powys County Council, Department for Constitutional Affairs and organisations who help the bereaved 

can be found at http://hmcoroner.powys.gov.uk/

Inquests are held at:

Brecon Law Courts, Cambrian Way, Brecon, Powys LD3 7HR Telephone   01874 622993

These courts are signposted.

These courts have disabled parking, access and toilet facilities, hearing enhancement facilities, lift facilities, free parking for disabled and there is limited free public parking at the court. Public toilets, hot and cold vending facilities, separate waiting rooms, public telephones and interview rooms are also provided.    

Welshpool Old Crown Court Building, The Town Hall, Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys SY2 7TQ. This court does not have a telephone contact. Please direct all enquiries to the Coroner’s office  07976060987 or consult the Powys Coroner’s website.  There are limited disabled facilities at this court (lift and toilet). Interview rooms, a public payphone, public toilets and a lift are also available.  

Llandrindod Wells Magistrates Court, High Street, Llandrindod Wells.  This court does not have a telephone contact. Please direct all enquiries to the Coroner’s office  07976060987 or consult the Powys Coroner’s website. There are limited disabled facilities at this court.  

Information on court facilities is also available at www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk  (click on Court information and addresses).  

On rare occasions an Inquest may have to be held somewhere other than at the courts listed above.  Should this happen then once the venue has been posted in the relevant Inquest details on the website details of access, facilities etc can be obtained from the Coroner's Clerk or the Coroner's Officer.

Anyone wishing to attend court who may have any special requirements (including, for example, translating or interpreting services) is requested to contact the coroner’s office in advance.

9.  A map giving directions to the location of the Court or Coroner’s office is available on application to the Coroner.  Maps giving access directions and information on court facilities are also available at http://hmcourts-service.gov.uk (click on Court information and addresses).

10.  The Coroner and his staff will identify themselves by name in their dealings with members of the public. The Deputy and Assistant Deputy Coroners act when the coroner is not available.  In so doing they exercise the full powers of the coroner.

INQUIRIES NOT REQUIRING AN INQUEST

11. 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 5 working days of the completion of the Coroner’s enquiries.

Before the Inquest

INTERVIEWS

12. If the Coroner or his Officer 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 to the person who made it, on request, at least 10 working days in advance of the hearing, unless the Coroner has good reason not to release it.

POST MORTEMS 

13. 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.
  • Confirmation of whether any organs and/or tissue are retained by the pathologist and details of the period for which they are to be retained.  The next of kin will be asked to indicate how they wish to deal with the retained organs/tissue to be deal with after the post-mortem.

INTERIM DEATH CERTIFICATES

14. The Coroner will provide an Interim Certificate as to the Fact of Death if desired by the next of kin. 

ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS 

15. The Coroner will notify those asked to attend an Inquest of the following:

  • The date and time of each hearing (if more than one) at least 10 working days in advance (but note that the formal opening of the Inquest - for taking evidence of identity and the medical cause of death - will generally take place within 2 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 of the facilities which will be available there;
  • Details of the telephone number and a named contact ( usually the police officer acting as Coroner’s Officer) for enquiries;

and will :

  • Advise on 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 allowances;
  • Ascertain any preference for swearing evidence (e.g. in accordance with specified religious beliefs, or on affirmation).

TIMING

16. The Coroner will endeavour to hold any necessary Inquest at the earliest possible date. 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 specific date.

RELEASE OF THE BODY 

17. The Coroner will release the body of the deceased for the funeral at the earliest opportunity, normally within 3 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 investigations. The Coroner will ensure that relatives are advised of potential delays and the reasons for them.

DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION

18. The Coroner will, on request and at his discretion, provide to interested persons not less than 10 working days in advance of the Inquest copies of the post mortem report, for which payment may be required.  

JURORS

19. 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 will last.  

At the Inquest

THE START OF THE INQUEST

20. At the start of the inquest the Coroner will introduce himself and explain:

  • The purpose of the inquest 
  • The limits of the inquest
  • The way in which evidence will be given

THE END OF THE INQUEST

21. At the end of the Inquest the Coroner / jury will give his/their verdict. For the purpose of the Registration Acts the Coroner may need to check certain personal details with the next of kin (e.g. date of birth, place of birth, occupation of the deceased, date of birth of surviving spouse/civil partner).

The Coroner will then explain to the next of kin if present, what happens next

  • how the death will be registered,
  • where and when a copy of the Death Certificate may be obtained.  

After the Inquest

22. On the conclusion of the Inquest, the next of kin will be provided with an explanation about how, where and when a copy of the death certificate may be obtained.

23. 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 10 working days of the Inquest outcome. He will also send copies of his letter to all the interested persons. A copy of any subsequent reply will be sent within 5 working days of its receipt.

24. The Coroner will supply to a properly interested person, on application, a copy of the Inquest verdict (although this is reproduced on the death certificate), or any of the documents produced in evidence, within 10 working 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 advance if requested.

25. The Coroner will also supply, for the prescribed fee, a copy of his notes of evidence, but this may take up to 6 weeks to provide. In all cases, an estimate of the fee will be given on application.

26. The Local Authority will pay witness and juror expenses claims promptly and within 21 working days of receipt from the Coroner of properly completed applications.

APPLICATION TO REMOVE A BODY OUT OF ENGLAND and WALES 

27. The Coroner will make every effort to complete his enquiries and decide such applications within 5 days of receipt of notice (including weekends and Bank Holidays).

Treasure Inquests

28. Coroners have responsibility for enquiries into treasure finds. Information leaflets about treasure are available from the Coroner’s Office.

Information about Treasure finds is also available on the Powys Coroner’s website - http://hmcoroner.powys.gov.uk  

Feedback and Complaints

29. 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  Coroner’s Office, Divisional Police Headquarters, Plas y Ffynnon, Cambrian Way, Brecon, LD3 7HP  Telephone   07976060987 Fax  01874 620024.  E-mail coroner@powys.gov.uk

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 Coroner’s Office will be able to explain the procedure on request, but cannot give legal advice.

All complaints about the administration of the Powys Coroner Service, or the conduct of individual Coroners or their Officers should be raised in the first instance with the Coroner concerned by writing to him or telephoning him at the address and telephone number stated earlier in this section.

If the Coroner fails to deal with the complaint satisfactorily, the complainant may refer it to the Ministry of Justice:  

Coroners Division, Ministry of Justice, 5th Floor, Steel House, 11 Tothill Street, London SW1H 9LH

Phone: 020 7210 0049 / 0066
Fax: 0870 739 5849

 The MoJ has no disciplinary powers or powers to award compensation but may, in appropriate cases, refer the complaint to the Lord Chancellor who is responsible for the discipline of Coroners.  

PERFORMANCE

30. The Coroner’s and Council’s performance will be monitored regularly against the standards detailed in this document.

FURTHER INFORMATION

28. Further copies of this Charter may be obtained from the Coroner’s Office or from Democratic Services , Powys County Hall,Llandrindod Wells Powys  LD1 5LG   Telephone: 01597 826373  and from Police Stations at Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Newtown and Ystradgynlais, Powys Libraries and Powys Shire Offices at Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, and Welshpool.

Information on the Powys Coroner's Service is available on the Powys Coroner's website www.hmcoroner.powys.gov.uk

General information is contained in the leaflet  When Sudden Death Occurs ( Coroners and Inquests) - published by the DCA available from the Coroner’s Office.

29. This Charter was issued on the 1st March, 2006 and will be reviewed periodically.

30. Reviewed:

1st October 2006

26th February 2007

14 June 2007