Investigation of sudden death by the coroner
Important service changes
The coroner’s service will investigate sudden or unexplained deaths, such as the death of a person in custody or one resulting from their occupation.
A registrar may have to involve the coroner in a range of circumstances if the death has not already been reported by someone else or if:
- no doctor can issue a medical certificate for the cause of death
- the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after death or within 14 days before death
- the cause of death is unknown
- the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious
- the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from an anaesthetic
- the death is due to industrial disease or industrial poisoning
Once a death is reported to the coroner, the registrar cannot go ahead with the registration until the coroner has decided whether any further investigation into the death is necessary.
If the coroner decides further investigations are necessary
The coroner may order a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death or may open an inquest.
If the coroner starts an investigation but does not proceed to an inquest
The coroner will inform the next of kin and, on completion of the investigation, issue a form to the registrar. The next of kin can then register the death.
If the coroner does proceed to an inquest
Once the inquest is concluded and the cause of death determined, the coroner will inform the registrar and release appropriate papers for the registration of the death. The coroner’s officer will keep you informed.
Relatives do not attend the registration but can obtain certificates if needed.
You can apply in writing for the certificates which cost £11 each. Enclose a cheque or postal order with your application made payable to South Gloucestershire Council.
Please send your application letter or complete an application form to South Gloucestershire Register Office, Chief Executive and Corporate Resources Department, PO Box 1953, Bristol BS37 0DB. No appointment is necessary when applying for certificates.
Most contact with the coroner’s service is through a coroner’s officer, who will contact the bereaved and others following a death. They will normally advise what steps are being taken by the coroner in connection with the death.
To contact the coroner’s office:
The Coroners Service for the District of Avon
Old Weston Road
Bristol BS48 1UL
Telephone: 01275 461 920