Gathering information and raising concerns
When a Coroner opens an inquest, they will instruct the Officer responsible for the case to put together a file of paper evidence. Different types of evidence are needed depending on the circumstances of the death.
The file often includes a statement from a member of the family about the deceased's personal background and any information that is known about their health. This is called the antecedent statement. A Police Coroner's Officer will take the statement from the family member either face-to-face or over the phone. It is not always the next of kin that makes the statement. The Officer will speak with whoever is best able to give the information and feels able to cope with doing so.
If family members have concerns about any of the circumstances of the deceased's death, they can raise them when making the statement if they wish. Alternately, they may prefer to write a separate letter to the Coroner once they have had a little longer to gather their thoughts. The Coroner takes all concerns raised by relatives seriously and tries to ensure that their questions are answered. Please be aware that, by law, we can only look into matters which relate to the 4 questions that an inquest covers.
As well as the personal background statement, the file will include the report of the post mortem examination, if one was carried out. There may then be additional reports from doctors, nurses, Police Officers, eyewitnesses or any other people the Coroner feels appropriate. Occasionally, the Coroner may commission an independent expert opinion report. Every file is unique.