Who is the Coroner? What do they do?
What is a Coroner?
Coroners are judicial office holders. They are completely independent and are appointed directly by the Crown. They have qualifications and substantial experience as a lawyer, a medical doctor, or sometimes both.
Each area has one Senior Coroner. Because our area is so busy, we also have a full time Area Coroner. Then we also have several Assistant Coroners who serve part-time, usually while continuing work as solicitors, barristers or doctors. Area and Assistant Coroners are qualified in the same way and have all the same powers as a Senior Coroner when it comes to dealing with deaths and inquests.
What does a Coroner do?
Coroners investigate all deaths where the cause is unknown, where there is reason to think the death may not be due to natural causes, or which need an inquiry for some other reason.
Each Senior Coroner is responsible for a geographical area. The Manchester City Area matches the area covered by Manchester City Council.
A Coroner will inquire into a death once they receive a report that a body is lying within their jurisdiction. Coroners have the power to have a body brought into the public mortuary and keep it there while they carry out investigations.
The Coroner will investigate each case in an appropriate way. It may be as simple as consulting with the doctor who last treated the person who has died, or a post mortem examination may be needed. In some cases, the Coroner may open an inquest, which is a judicial inquiry into the death.
Other sections on this website explain the different possibilities and the timescales you can expect. In all cases, the Coroner aims to disrupt families' funeral plans as little as possible, while making sure that the investigations are effective and complete.
Coroners and the Local Authority
Coroners are members of the judiciary and are not employed by the Local Authority. However, the Local Authority does fund the Coroner's service and the office staff are Local Authority employees. This is why the Manchester Coroner's Service is part of Manchester City Council.
A guide to the work of the Coroner is available from the Ministry of Justice website.