Joint Committee On Human Rights Sixteenth Report


APPENDIX 24: NOTE FROM THE CORONERS SERVICE FOR NORTHERN IRELAND

1.   The number of inquests pending before coroners in Northern Ireland

Table 1 below indicates the number of cases (deaths) pending before coroners in Northern Ireland at the end of each calendar year from 2001 to 2006.

Table 1 - Coroners outstanding cases 2001 - 2006

  Outstanding cases at end
20011897
20021633
20031844
20041892
20051494
2006 [1] 1333


[1] provisional figures

The Coroners Service does not maintain statistics on the number of inquests pending as this figure is fluid at any one time depending on the number of post mortem reports received, statements from the police etc. The position in Northern Ireland is different from that in England and Wales as inquests are not held in every death registered with a coroner in Northern Ireland. Approximately 7% of reported deaths are concluded by inquest.

2.  The average time for the completion of inquests in Northern Ireland

Table 2 below provides details of the average time taken from date of death to the end of the inquest from 2001 to 2006. As a consequence of the amalgamation, the coroners have prioritised the longest standing cases. They have cleared 813 of these older cases between January 2006 and April 2007. As these statistics focus on concluded inquests, this process has led to the average time increasing over the last two years.

- Table 2 - Coroners Inquests Held - Average time from date of death to the end of the inquest
  Average time (weeks)
200171.92
200273.05
200384.12
200486.43
2005105.16
2006 [1] 108.92

[1] provisional figures

3.  The longest time for completion of an inquest in Northern Ireland

The longest time for completion of an inquest in Northern Ireland since the Coroners Service was established (and records for the whole of Northern Ireland were amalgamated) is 378.29 weeks. The death occurred on 8 June 1999 and the inquest was completed on 7 September 2006. Before an inquest was possible a health and safety investigation had to be concluded and a decision reached on whether a prosecution would be brought.


 
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