Coroners inquire into deaths reported to them which appear to be violent, unnatural, or of sudden and unknown causes. The coroner will seek to establish the medical cause of death, through a post-mortem examination if necessary. If the cause remains in doubt after a post-mortem, an inquest will be held.
Coroners are independent judicial officers. Each coroner has to have a deputy and between them they have to be available at all times. Coroners are helped by officers, who receive the reports of deaths and make enquiries on behalf of the coroner.
Coroners are appointed by North Yorkshire County Council for particular geographical areas. Coroners are usually lawyers but in some cases they may be doctors. They usually only act when the place of death is in their area. North Yorkshire County Council pays for the cost of the local coroner's service.
The coroners' service operates according to the North Yorkshire coroners' service charter. This outlines what standards of performance are to be expected in the coroner service and guidelines on what happens if something goes wrong.
For further information please see North Yorkshire County Council - Coroners - sudden death investigations.