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Ministry of Justice publishes Coroners Statistics for 2012 England and Wales

22 May 2013

16 May 2013

The Ministry of Justice publishes an annual bulletin of coroners statistics. On 16 May 2013, the figures for 2012 were published and included statistics relating to deaths reported to coroners, post-mortems and inquests. These figures are used by the MoJ (and now the Chief Coroner) to monitor coroners’ workload, throughput of case and percentages of post-mortems and inquests.

Headline figures include that in 2012:

  • Inquests were opened into 32,542 deaths in 2012 – an increase of 1,561 on 2011;
  • Post-mortems were conducted in 87% of cases where an inquest was held (“prior to the late 1990s, the holding of an inquest without a post-mortem examination was comparatively rare, accounting for around 2% or less of inquest cases every year”);
  • a total of 281 deaths were reported to coroners which occurred in state custody. The highest number (152 or 54% of the total) occurred in Prison custody, followed by 93 (33%) in Mental Health Act detention centres[1] (see below):

Table 6: Deaths in custody reported to coroners, 2011-2012

 

 

 

 

2011

 

2012

             
Prison custody    

185

 

152

Police custody    

22

 

9

Immigration removal centres    

3

 

1

Mental Health Act detention    

83

 

93

Residents of Probation Approved Premises

13

 

6

Secure training centre    

0

 

0

Local authority secure children’s homes

0

 

0

Release on temporary licence (ROTL)

4

 

6

Release from custody within last 7 days

11

 

14

             
Total deaths in custody    

321

 

281

             
  • 472 inquests were held with juries (representing just 2% of all inquests). This was a decrease of 10 compared to 2011;
  • 943 inquests were adjourned and not resumed (under s.16 of the Coroners Act 1988 because criminal proceedings took place);
  • Verdicts were returned at 30,123 inquests. Verdicts of suicide comprised 12% of the total. What the Ministry of Justice terms “unclassified verdicts”, which include narrative verdicts, “formed 2% of the total in 2002 but have since risen steadily to account for over 15% of verdicts in 2012”;
  • The MoJ statistics state “the estimated average time taken to process an inquest in 2012 (defined as being from the time the death was reported until the conclusion of the inquest, where the death occurred in England and Wales) was 26 weeks, slightly less than the last three years’ figure of 27 weeks. The maximum time taken to process an inquest in 2012 was 53 weeks, and the minimum time as 8 weeks.”[2]

 


[1] See pages 14, and Table 6 of Bulletin (reproduced above)

[2] Page 4, Bulletin

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