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HM Coroner. Derek Winter City of Sunderland. Thoughts for Today. The Coroner and Justice Bill 2009 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 The Road Safety Act 2006 The future of Forensic Pathology?. Handouts. The Work of the Coroner When Sudden Death Occurs

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Hm coroner

HM Coroner

Derek Winter

City of Sunderland


Thoughts for today
Thoughts for Today

  • The Coroner and Justice Bill 2009

  • Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

  • The Road Safety Act 2006

  • The future of Forensic Pathology?


Handouts
Handouts

  • The Work of the Coroner

  • When Sudden Death Occurs

  • Understanding CMCHA 2007

  • A Guide to CMCHA 2007

  • Circular 2008/03 Road Safety Act 2006

  • Draft Charter for Bereaved people who come into contact with a reformed Coroner System

  • Coroner Reform Bulletin (2) April 2009

  • What to do after a death

  • R-v-Evans[2009] EWCA Crim 650



2007 alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • 504,300 deaths in England Wales

  • 234,500 referred to the Coroner (46%)

  • 110,400 subject to PM (47%)

  • 30,800 Inquests (13%)

  • 2946 traffic fatalities

  • 750 homicides (75% male)

  • 3000 suicide verdicts (80% male)


Coroner service
Coroner Service alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

Funded by LA (s27 indemnity)

104 Coroners (Deputies & Assistant Deputies)

Police Coroners Officers (Police Staff)


Corporate manslaughter basics
Corporate Manslaughter Basics alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • An Organisation will be guilty if the way in which its activities are managed or organised (at a senior level) causes a death and amounts to a

    gross (far below) breach of a duty of care to the deceased


Cmcha 2007 section 8 3
CMCHA 2007 Section 8 (3) alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • The Jury may also consider the ….

  • Attitudes

  • Policies

  • Systems

  • Accepted Practices

  • ….that were likely to have encouraged the breach or produced a tolerance of it


Practicalities
Practicalities alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Investigate Sudden and Unexplained Death

  • Refer to the Police prior to or during Inquest for Gross Negligence Manslaughter and now Corporate Manslaughter to consider

  • Employers

  • Local Authority

  • Doctors

  • Pharmacists

    (NB Govt estimates were for 10/12 prosecutions pa)


Problems
Problems alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Do we need a forensic autopsy in more/all cases?

  • 2nd PM?

  • Police/CPS views?

  • Delay

  • Family never get a chance to be heard


Expectations
Expectations alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Inquests are not:

  • A dry run for a civil hearing to determine liability

  • To adjudicate complaints

    Inquests determine who the deceased was when and where they died and how they came about death BUT……


Pressures
Pressures alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Confusion with Neglect v Negligence

  • Neglect is a gross failure to provide basic nourishment/medical treatment (Jameson)

  • Unlawful Killing Verdict has to be beyond reasonable doubt

  • Cannot apportion blame (r42 CR84)

  • No self incrimination (r22 CR84)


More pressures
More Pressures alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Ordinary PM (£90)

  • Independent PM (£300)

  • HO Forensic PM (£2500)

  • “defence” PM ?

  • Police resources

  • Disclosure/Statements/Policies/Experts

  • Delays

  • Scope of the Inquest/Jury?


And more
And More! alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Who is a manager at a senior level in a medical death?

  • Appointment/supervision/training/review of staff

  • Procedures-review and audit

  • Volume of NHS instructions to Trusts

  • Causation

  • Emergency response versus medical treatment

  • Longer case-delays with routine work

  • Reluctance to provide full reports for fear of disclosing criminal liability.

  • Conflicts of interest

  • More lawyers

  • Rule 43 reports


The road safety act 2006
The Road Safety Act 2006 alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

s20 Causing death by Careless or inconsiderate driving:

“A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, is guilty of an offence."

s21 Causing death by driving: unlicensed,disqualified or uninsured drivers

Mandatory adjournment under s16 Coroners Act 1988 (both for Magistrates and Crown Court)

Inquest may be resumed after the criminal proceedings are concluded if in the Coroners opinion there “is sufficient cause to do so”

Re-trial? Sentencing issues-further evidence-family to be heard


Chief medical officer guidance
Chief Medical Officer Guidance alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • 1998 “All those who have information which could help Coroners inquiries should disclose it voluntarily and not only when requested”

  • 2008 “NHS organisations should aim to assist Coroners by providing prompt access to information that may be relevant to an Inquest. Where an organisation takes the decision to withhold information from an inquiry, this should be clearly documented with an explanation of the considerations that are believed to outweigh the public interest that would be served by disclosure”

  • Coroners will not be playing “hide and seek” with NHS organisations and will look very seriously at contempt of Court and/or attempting to pervert the course of justice


The coroners and justice bill 2009
The Coroners and Justice Bill 2009 alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Chief Coroner (High Court Judge)

  • Leadership

  • Training and Guidance

  • Annual report

  • Support for Coroners

  • Rule 43 reports-collating and publishing

  • Case Law

  • Consultation/involvement with Coroner appointments

  • Liaison with relevant organisations

  • Inspections (operation/standards of service not Judicial functioning)

  • Appeals (on fact and law)

  • Directing other Coroners to conduct investigations

  • Applications where no body exists


And more1
…and more alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Applications for search and entry

  • Retention/release of bodies

  • Investigation of (non judicial) complaints

  • Conducting an Investigation

  • Designation of medical practitioners

  • Emergency Planning

  • Issuing Practice Directions to Coroners

  • Identifying and disseminating best practice to Coroners

  • Determining how the standards of service in the Charter for Bereaved People will be applied

  • Liaison with other stakeholders HMICA: LGA: Audit Commission


A poisoned chalice
A Poisoned Chalice alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”


Death certification
Death Certification alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Improve the quality and accuracy

  • Effective medical scrutiny of all deaths not reportable to the Coroner

  • Transparency for bereaved families

  • Strengthen clinical governance/public health surveillance


Medical examiners
Medical Examiners alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Scrutinise and confirm cause of deaths (not investigated by the Coroner)

  • Talk with the next of kin and others to prepare for scrutiny and after scrutiny to advise the confirmed cause of death

  • Where there is no attending doctor the ME will scrutinise the death and prepare the MCCD

  • ME Authorisation will replace the current cremation forms and apply to burials also

  • ME Authorisation will be transmitted to Bereavement Office/GP/Funeral Director and Disposal Authority


Impact
Impact alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Bereaved Families

  • Simpler process

  • Increased transparency

  • Confirmed cause of death explained

  • Easier to raise concerns

  • Improved quality of certification


Doctors
Doctors alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Access to ME for discussion

  • Improved quality of certification

  • Reduced bureaucracy


Funeral directors
Funeral Directors alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Less time/work involved with forms

  • Notification of confirmed cause of death helps to meet health and hygiene requirements


Coroners
Coroners alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Fewer Investigations

  • Reduced post mortems

  • Medical Advice available from ME

  • The ability to transfer cases to other jurisdictions

  • The legalisation of the practice of transferring bodies for PM’s to other jurisdictions

  • To hear cases outside of the jurisdiction

  • Leadership


Some problems
Some problems alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • CO’s may migrate to ME service (blight)

  • Independence of the ME to the PCT who appoints them?

  • Pilots underway with staged roll out by 2011

  • DoH awash with funds

  • MoJ National leadership via Chief Coroner to be funded centrally but LA continue to fund the Coroner service although there will be a move to full time Coroners and larger jurisdictions (population areas 1m save for geographical anomalies)

  • No new money for LA’s to meet higher expectations


Resources
Resources alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Demand led service

  • Statutory duty to investigate

  • S27 indemnity now and in the new Act

  • Full cost falls to LA (impact on other essential services)

  • No Budget (resource allocation/expenditure forecast)

  • Judicially independent of funding LA

  • Failure to fund = breach of statutory duty/Contempt/Obstructing Justice


If coroners get it wrong
If Coroners get it wrong….. alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • A missed murder and possibly more deaths

  • Incorrect ID

  • Release of the wrong body

  • PM on the wrong body

  • Wrong information to the right relative

  • Failure to advise on tissue retention

  • Failure to deal with retained tissue correctly

  • Failing to spot something that may kill others

  • The CSEW welcomes the reforms (even though they have been watered down )

  • The devil will be in the detail of the regulations and the resources applied


Registrars
Registrars alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

  • Reduced bureaucracy

  • No requirement to interpret medical information

  • Easier to monitor and manage workload


Rising costs 1
Rising costs (1) alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

Whilst autopsies have come down in % terms, the number of reported cases increases each year

The complexity and length of cases has increased beyond reason in the last few years:

increased public expectation

effects of Article 2 ECHR

greater risk of challenge in the High Court

More second autopsies where the costs must be met by the coroner


Rising costs 2
Rising costs (2) alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

The NHS used to work with the coroner, covering much of the costs that the case incurred

Then they needed to recover funds ….

Sudden infant deaths

used to cost only a minimal pathologists fee

now we pay for everything

Toxicology

used to cost £5 for an alcohol test

now we have to do a wide ranging screen

Now far more cases where toxicology is needed


Rising costs 3
Rising costs (3) alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

The profile of the inquest has risen significantly, and not only in Article 2 cases

There is a greater expectation that the coroner will use an independent expert

As Article 2 ECHR spreads to medical cases this will increase

The new Corporate Manslaughter Act will bring huge complications to a small number of cases


Other thoughts
Other thoughts alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”

Non invasive PMs (10x the cost) and Coroner cannot pass on the cost

Shortage of Paediatric Pathologists (shortage of experts in Child Protection)

Drug Deaths - scaled down Police Investigation (appeal in Evans)


2 nd pm no defendant
2 alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”nd PM (no Defendant)

  • At all?

  • Who?

  • Jointly?

  • Disclose to Police?

  • Maintain in sealed envelope?


Questions? alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke and spirits is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most awful shapes”