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Coroners: Out-of-Hours Service

Volume 601: debated on Tuesday 3 November 2015

The Government are committed to ensuring that bereaved people are at the heart of the coroner system, and we are working with coroners, local authorities and the police to develop a pan-London out-of-hours service. On 15 October we launched a post-implementation review of the coroner reforms of 2013, including views on the availability of out-of-hours services.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, but may I press her specifically on Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Muslims, who require a speedy service and a speedy burial? Will she commit to giving strict guidance to coroners that they should turn around such decisions so that those burials can take place very quickly?

Coroners understand and should be sensitive to the fact that some faiths have religious and cultural wishes for burials after death. They should always try to take those wishes into account. In May 2014, the Chief Coroner issued guidance to coroners on their legal duties to deal with urgent matters out of hours. As I have mentioned, we are working with key partners to develop an out-of-hours service in London.

There are serious concerns about the coroners service that affect faith communities in west London in-hours, let alone out of hours. Will the Minister see what her Department can do to address those concerns?

We have been working on that. The Secretary of State and I have met representatives from the Jewish and Muslim communities and are very sympathetic to their concerns. We are working with key stakeholders to develop an out-of-hours service across London.