What do Coroners do?

The Coroner investigates any death where the cause is not known, violent or unnatural. This also includes deaths whilst the deceased was legally detained.

Coroners investigate deaths if they have reason to suspect that:

  • The death was violent or unnatural;
  • The cause of death is unknown; or
  • The deceased died while in state detention.

When a death is reported to a Coroner they:

  • Make preliminary inquiries to decide if an investigation is required;
  • If so investigate to establish the identity of the person who has died; how, when, and where they died; and any information required to register the death; and
  • May use information discovered during the investigation to assist in the prevention of other deaths. The Coroner may decide to hold an Inquest as part of the investigation.

Other sections on this website explain the different possibilities more fully and the timescales you can expect. In all cases, the Coroner aims to accommodate families' funeral plans while making sure that the investigations are effective and complete.

A guide to the work of the Coroner is available from the Ministry of Justice website.