source: The Independent
published: 13 April 2014
Grieving families are having to wait up to seven years to find out what caused the death of loved ones, as evidence mounts of growing backlogs of inquests, with which coroners are struggling to cope.
Coroners’ courts investigate the medical cause of death, particularly if it appears to be sudden, unnatural or violent. Each year more than 30,000 inquests are held in England and Wales and individual coroners have been responsible for holding hearings “as soon as practicable”.
Last year the chief coroner, Peter Thornton QC, introduced a new standards code that required all 96 coroners to complete inquests within six months of being informed of a death, unless there are good reasons not to do so. Acceptable delays include waiting for related criminal investigations, or trials, to be concluded.