Press release

Merseyside merger to improve coroner services

Families of bereaved people across Liverpool and Wirral will receive better coroner services in the future.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Families of bereaved people across Liverpool and Wirral will receive better coroner services in the future Justice Minister Simon Hughes has announced.

The permanent merger of the Liverpool and Wirral coroner services will greatly improve coroner services in the north west, and generate efficiencies for the local authorities affected.

The needs of grieving people will be firmly at the heart of the coroners system – with an emphasis on speeding up inquests and providing more consistent services.

The government is committed to raising standards of coroner services across England and Wales. Merging Liverpool and Wirral services is a significant step in doing so, and will help to end what has previously been described as a ‘postcode lottery’.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:

We want to make sure grieving families receive the highest level of service when they are most in need, which is why we are determined that inquests are conducted quickly and consistently right across the country.

The merger of the Liverpool and Wirral coroners areas are part of the reforms we set in motion two years ago to prioritise the needs of bereaved people while cutting costs for local authorities.

No courts or inquest venues will close as a result of the merger.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) supports and encourages the amalgamation of smaller or part-time coroner areas to create more fully-loaded caseloads for full-time coroners, to promote consistency over a wider area and generate efficiencies for the local authorities which fund coroner services.

As a result of the merger the Liverpool and Wirral Senior Coroner will receive additional resources to support the caseload and maintain quality of coronial services.

MOJ has carried out considerable reforms in the past 2 years to improve coroner services across England and Wales and increase consistency of practice between coroner areas. These include:

  • creation of a new national code of practice – setting out what service and standards bereaved people can expect from coroners
  • appointment of the first ever Chief Coroner of England and Wales (His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC) to oversee the coroner system
  • requiring inquests to be completed within 6 months of the date on which the coroner is made aware of the death, unless there are good reasons not to
  • requiring coroners to notify those who are bereaved within a week of setting the date for the inquest
  • requiring coroners to notify those who are bereaved of the date of the inquest within a week of setting the date
  • providing greater access to documents and evidence, such as post-mortem reports, before the inquest takes place, to enable bereaved families to prepare for the hearing
  • permitting less invasive post-mortem examinations
  • speeding up the release of bodies after post-mortem examination, and requiring coroners to notify the deceased’s next of kin or personal representative if the body cannot be released within 28 days

Notes to editors

For further information please contact the MOJ Newsdesk on 0203 334 3536.

Published 12 March 2015