3 September 2020
This briefing responds to the Justice Committee’s call for evidence into the effectiveness of the Coroner Service and whether changes introduced under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 has helped improve the experiences of bereaved people and survivors who come into contact with the Coroner Service.
The Committee’s website states: “The Committee’s inquiry will examine the effectiveness and capacity of the Coroner Service and whether enough progress has been made since the 2009 changes in improving bereaved people’s experience of the Coroner Service.”
In 2019 JUSTICE established a working party, chaired by Sir Robert Owen with a membership of experts across the field of inquests and inquiries to address these failures. The working party subsequently published a report titled ‘When Things Go Wrong: The response of the justice system’ on 24th August 2020. This report seeks to address the erosion of public trust in the response of the justice system to deaths giving rise to public concern. These include major incidents causing multiple fatalities, which may also arise from a pattern of systemic failure. If it is to enjoy the confidence of the public, the justice system must provide a response that is consistent, open, timely, coherent and readily understandable.
The report records 54 recommendations directed at remedying such shortcomings by building on the strengths of the present system of inquests and public inquiries. This briefing focuses on our report’s findings and recommendations regarding the Coroner Service.