Who is the Coroner and what happens when a death is reported?
Maria Voisin is His Majesty’s Senior Coroner for the area of Avon.
- Bath and North East Somerset
- North Somerset
- South Gloucestershire
The coroner is a member of the judiciary and isn’t employed by any local authority. The Coroner is completely independent and responsible only to the Crown.
A death might be reported to the Coroner if the:
- cause of death isn’t known
- cause of death is possibly violent or unnatural
- person died in prison, police custody or another type of state detention
- The coroner will establish who’s died and how, when and where they died.
If you think a death might be unnatural contact the police as soon as possible. They will notify the Coroner’s Office if necessary.
The coroner is supported by His Majesty’s Area Coroner:
- Dr Peter Harrowing
The coroner is supported by His Majesty’s Assistant Coroners:
- Dr. Simon Fox KC
- Myfanwy Buckeridge
- Robert Sowersby
- Debbie Rookes
- Nicholas Lane
They have the same powers as the senior coroner to deal with deaths and inquests.
Coroner’s officers are employed by Avon and Somerset Police. They:
- take the initial report of death
- investigate deaths reported to the Coroner’s Office, under the direction of the Coroner
The coroner is also supported by an admin team.
When a death is reported to the Coroner
When a death is reported, the Coroner will look at the information provided by the Coroner’s officers and decide what, if any, further investigations are needed.
From the information provided, the coroner might be satisfied that the person died of natural causes. If this happens the coroner will give the hospital doctor or GP permission to issue a Medical Cause of Death Certificate (MCCD). The Coroner will also issue a form to the register office so that you can register the death (GOV.UK).
In other cases, the Coroner might order a post-mortem, order further investigations or open an inquest.
Once reported to the Coroner, a death can’t be registered until the coroner gives permission. However, you can start to make funeral arrangements. Tell your funeral director that the death has been reported to the Coroner. They can then contact the Coroner’s Office to establish a suitable date for the funeral.