Coroners: Standards

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 10th September 2021.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what departmental oversight is in place to monitor the performance of coroners.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of coroners' activities within the legal system.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of medical coroners.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Coroners are independent judicial office holders. A system of appraisal for assistant coroners which was launched by the previous Chief Coroner in April 2019 is now well-established and a system of appraisal for area and senior coroners is now being developed by the current Chief Coroner following a recently completed pilot scheme.

Coroners carry out their role in line with their statutory powers and duties set out in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and the Rules and Regulations which underpin the Act. The Chief Coroner provides leadership, guidance and support to coroners to assist them in their role and Justice Ministers meet the Chief Coroner on a regular basis. On 27 July the Justice Committee published the report of its inquiry into the coroner service. The Government has responded to the Committee’s report and the Committee is expected to publish the response on its website in due course.

Since July 2013 when the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 came into force, to be eligible for appointment as a senior, area or assistant coroner, a person has to have a legal qualification. Coroners in post at that time who only had a medical qualification could, however, continue in that role but they would not be eligible for another coroner appointment. Individuals who are both legally and medically qualified remain eligible for appointment.

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