Coroners service

Coroners operate within a legal framework and have a duty to investigate all sudden, unexpected, violent or unnatural deaths and deaths that occur in legal custody.

The Coroner investigates deaths in order to establish who, how and when a person has died. It may be necessary for a post mortem examination to be carried out.

Certain deaths require an inquest, a determination and a conclusion by the Coroner.

Which deaths need to be reported to the coroner?

The registrar will report the following deaths to the Coroner if not already reported to by someone else:

  • where there is no doctor who can issue a medical certificate of cause of death
  • where the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after death nor within 14 days before death
  • where the cause of death is unknown
  • where the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious
  • where the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from an anaesthetic
  • where the death is due to industrial disease or industrial poisoning

When can the funeral be held?

If the coroner’s investigation or a post mortem reveal 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 an inquest is needed a death cannot be registered until the inquest has been completed, but the coroner will usually issue a certificate that will allow the funeral to take place.

A registrar cannot register the death or issue a death certificate until the body is released by the coroner.

What is a post mortem?

A post mortem is a medical examination carried out by a pathologist at the coroner’s request. The purpose is to establish the cause of death. The consent of the next of kin is not required for a coroner’s post mortem. Copies of a post mortem report will normally be available to the next of kin and to certain other properly interested persons. A fee may be payable. Please contact your local coroner's office.

What is an inquest?

An inquest is an inquiry into:

  • Who has died
  • How, when and where the death occurred

An inquest is not a trial and it is not the coroner’s job to deal with questions of civil or criminal liability. Possible conclusions include: natural causes, accident, suicide, unlawful or lawful killing, industrial disease, and open verdicts where there is insufficient evidence for any other verdict. Narrative verdicts can also be made.

Access to medical records by the coroner

Medical records remain confidential after death. However, coroners are entitled to request medical information that is relevant and necessary to their enquiries.

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 advise when the body can be released to be taken abroad.

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.

Reporting treasure finds to the coroner

Coroners also deal with finds that may be classed as treasure.

Coroners' offices

Coroner's court 2 Faraday Court
Faraday Drive
Preston
Lancashire
PR2 9NB

Telephone: 01772 536536

Email: coroners@lancashire.gov.uk

Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley

HM Coroner
Acting Senior Coroner
Dr James R.H Adeley

East Lancashire District

HM Coroner
Senior Coroner
Mr Richard Graeme Taylor

Preston & West Lancashire

HM Coroner
Senior Coroner
Dr James R.H Adeley