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Coroners: Northern Ireland

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure there is no unnecessary delay in the holding of a coroner's inquest after a death in Northern Ireland. [HL266]

Rule 3 of the Coroners (Practice and Procedure) Rules (Northern Ireland) 1963 requires that where an inquest is necessary it shall be held as soon as is practicable after the coroner has been notified of the death. In order to meet this requirement, the following improvements have been introduced in the Coroners Service for Northern Ireland:

four full-time coroners have been appointed replacing the previous structure which largely depended on part-time coroners;

a High Court judge has been assigned to be the presiding judge for the Coroners Service;

additional support staff have been appointed to the Coroners Service, including a medical officer, a solicitor, and three family liaison officers;

protocols have been agreed with partner agencies, including the State Pathology Department, setting targets for the production of reports prepared for the Coroners Service; and

an improved IT system allows cases to be tracked effectively.