The coroner enquires into deaths which are reported to him. It is his duty to find out the medical cause of the death, if it is not known, and to enquire about the cause of it if it was due to violence or was otherwise unnatural. Deaths are usually reported to the coroner by the police or by a doctor called to the death if it is sudden. A doctor will also report a patient’s death if unexpected. In other cases, the local registrar of deaths may make the report.
The coroner may ask a pathologist to examine the body. If so, the examination must be done as soon as possible. If the examination shows the death to have been a natural one, there may be no need for an inquest and the coroner will send a form to the registrar of deaths so that the death can be registered. If the death is found not to be due to a natural cause then there will be an inquest. An inquest is not a trial. It is a limited inquiry into the facts surrounding a death. The inquest is an inquiry to find out who has died, and how, when and where they died.
Coroners are usually lawyers but in some cases they may be doctors. Coroners are independent judicial officers – this means that no-one else can tell them or direct them as to what they should do but they must follow the laws and regulations which apply. Each coroner has to have a deputy and between them they have to be available at all times. Coroners are helped by their officers, who receive the reports of deaths and make enquiries on behalf of the coroner. The cost of the coroners’ service is met by local taxation.
The Coroner for Warwickshire is:
Warwickshire Justice Centre
Tel: 01926 684228