Coroner

The Job and What's Involved

Coroners are independent judicial officers who look into the causes of any sudden, unexpected or violent deaths that are reported to them.

As a coroner you would:

  • Investigate the circumstances of all reported deaths.
  • Determine the cause of death by looking into all the available information (often this will involve discussing the case with the deceased's doctor).
  • Decide whether to order a post-mortem if there are questions around the cause of death.
  • Hold an inquest if the post-mortem shows the death was not natural.
  • Notify the Registrar about the death or the results of the inquest.
  • Write reports to prevent future deaths, where appropriate.
  • Make sure that all procedures and records follow the law
    appoint deputy and assistant coroners.

As a full-time coroner or deputy coroner you would work a basic week of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with some time on an on-call rota outside of normal office hours.

However, currently most coroners work part-time, and spend the rest of their time working in private legal practice.

You would need to travel between scenes of crime, courts and hospitals in the area that you cover.

Salaries for whole-time coroners are between £90,000 and £98,000 a year, based on the population size of the area they cover.

Part-time coroners and deputy coroners are paid according to the number of cases they take on each year, ranging from around £9,800 for 200 cases to £49,000 for 2000 cases a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You would be normally employed by a local council in one of 110 districts in England and Wales, but you would be accountable to the Ministry of Justice.

Vacancies are usually advertised locally. See the Coroners' Society website for details of your nearest coroner's office.

Education and Training

At present, coroners must be qualified barristers, solicitors or doctors with at least five years' post-qualifying experience. A few coroners have qualifications in both law and medicine. See the related guides for more information about qualifying in law or medicine.

You would start as a deputy or assistant deputy coroner – you must first find a coroner to appoint you as his or her deputy or assistant. You can find details of local coroners' offices on the Coroners' Society of England and Wales website.

As a result of the 2009 Coroners and Justice Act, the Ministry of Justice is in the process of reforming the Coroner Service, including the recruitment and training of coroners. All new coroners will need law qualifications, and more coroners will serve full-time (known as 'whole-time') in a new national coroners' service. Keep checking the Coroners section of the Ministry of Justice website for the latest information.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is provided by the Coroners Division of the Ministry of Justice. You would normally start at deputy or assistant level and be trained in court proceedings and relevant administration.

You will also need ongoing training to keep up to date with changes in law, medical procedures and administrative practices.

The coroner service reform is likely to lead to a national programme of training and standards for coroners and other staff in the service.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A coroner needs:

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • The ability to explain complex legal and medical terms in an understandable way.
  • A tactful and sensitive approach.
  • A sound knowledge of the law.
  • Logical thinking and good judgement.
  • The ability to follow procedures.
  • A high level of attention to detail.
  • Accurate record keeping.
  • The ability to deal with a wide range of people including police officers, witnesses and the media.

Your Long Term Prospects

Reforms to the coroner service mean that the new national coroner service is likely to have around 60 to 65 larger districts, each with one full-time coroner and a pool of assistant coroners.

Get Further Information

Ministry of Justice,
6th Floor, Temple Court,
35 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6WF
Tel: 0121 250 6350
Website: www.justice.gov.uk/hmcts

Coroners' Society of England and Wales
Website: www.coronersociety.org.uk

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