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. Some officers are full-time but in quieter parts of the country they are part-time and often work as policemen or policewomen the rest of the time. The cost of the coroner service is met by local taxation.
A Coroner enquires into those deaths reported to him. It is his/her duty to find out the medical cause of death, if it is known, and to enquire about the cause of it if it was due to violence or was otherwise unnatural.
Not all deaths are reported to the coroner. In most cases the deceased’s own doctor, or a hospital doctor who has been treating the deceased, is able to give a cause of death and issue a medical certificate.
There are a number of occasions when a death will be reported to the coroner e.g. when no doctor has treated the deceased during his/her last illness, or when the death was sudden, unexpected or unnatural.
Deaths are usually reported to the coroner by the police or by a doctor called to the death if it is sudden. But a doctor will also report a patient’s death if unexpected. In other cases, the local registrar of deaths may make the report.
Within Rhondda Cynon Taff deaths of all ex-coalminers are reported to the coroner, this does not mean there has to be a post mortem, but the coroner for this district is informed directly either by a doctor or by the registrar so that the necessary paperwork required to register the death can be issued.
Whenever a death has been reported to the coroner, whether the coroner decides to carry out a post mortem or not, the registrar must wait for the coroner to finish his/her enquiries. Once the coroner has completed his/her enquiries paperwork will be issued to the registrar, the registrar will then be able to proceed with the registration and issue paperwork for the funeral to proceed.
If the coroner has been notified, the enquiries may take some time, so it is always best to contact the coroner’s office before any funeral arrangements are made.
The coroner responsible for the district of Rhondda Cynon Taf is H.M. Coroner Louise Hunt who is based at Rock Grounds One4All centre, Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf.
To contact the coroners office directly for this area please ring: (01685) 885202.
If you would like more information about the work of the Coroner then please visit the official Department for Constitutional Affairs Website for the coroner.