HM Coroner's Service

The Coroner's Service is possibly the definitive 'change of circumstances' service, and it is used at one of the most difficult and emotional periods in life, where a member of the family, or a friend, has died through tragic or unexplained circumstances.

Important notice:

The Coroner's Office (Fairfield, Cockermouth) is open to allow families to attend inquests . However, in line with Government advice, if you are attending HM Coroners Court, you are expected to bring a face mask with you and to wear it at all times. This must be worn in public waiting areas, and during the inquest proceedings to prevent the risk of Covid-19 spreading.  

Also, whilst immediate family members are able to attend inquests, spaces in the Court have been limited. Please ensure that no more than 2/3 people are in attendance.

However, should you have any questions or queries, you can still contact the office on 0300 303 3180 or email

**Please Note: Inquests are public hearings and as such the Press may attend and report on proceedings**

Thank you for your co-operation.

It is the role of HM Coroner to ascertain the circumstances surrounding certain types of death, and to inquire and investigate to establish certain facts.  These are, in basic terms - who, when, where and how.  The coroner will establish:

Who - the identity of the deceased
When -  When the death occurred
Where - the location of the death
How - the cause and circumstances of the death

HM Coroner's role is not to apportion blame, only to establish the facts. It is for others, based on the findings of HM Coroner, to then look to establish if there was any wrong doing, criminal or otherwise, or where negligence may have taken place.

All Coroners are 'independent judicial officers' and not employed by the local authority.  They are members of the judiciary, and independent of both Local and Central Government, and are required to act in accordance with legislation.  They therefore answer only to the Chief Coroner for England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chancellor. Ultimately their role is to hold inquests on behalf of the Queen.

Important information:

The Coroners Service in Cumbria has moved to a new electronic case management system. This is part of a long-term plan to further improve the administration and management of coronial cases, and help with a wider program within both the coroners service and local authority to use electronic communication methods, moving away from paper based systems and records.
Can we ask that all written correspondence to the Coroners Service is now sent by email rather than post or fax. The email address is:

If a death occurs in any of the following circumstances, the death of a person may be reported to the Coroner.

  • When the death was unexplained or where there are suspicious circumstances, or when the cause of death is unknown.

  • When the death may be due to an industrial injury or disease, or due to an accident, violence, negligence or abortion, or to any kind of poisoning.

  • When the death occurred in police custody, in prison or in an institution of some type.

  • When the deceased has not been attended to by a doctor during their last illness, or when the doctor attending the deceased did not see them within 14 days before death or after death.

  • When the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from the effect of an anaesthetic.

A death occurring in any of the above circumstances is usually reported to the Coroner by the police, or by a doctor called to the death.  It may also be reported by a doctor who was treating the deceased if the death was unexpected.  Anyone can report a death to the Coroner including family members or a Registrar

Once any death has been reported to the Coroner a Registrar cannot register the death until the Coroner's enquiries or investigations have been completed.

The primary legislation under which the Coroner's Service operates is the Coroners Act 1988 and the Coroners Rules 1984.  More recently there has been the addition of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which sets out a number of changes to modify and standardise the Coroner's Services in England.

All HM Coroners are 'independent judicial officers', and are not employed by the local authority.  The local authority cannot review a Coroner's performance, enforce practices, procedure or policy, or invoke any disciplinary procedures.  Coroners answer to the Chief Coroner, the Ministry of Justice and ultimately the Lord Chancellor.

The provision of a local Coroner's Service is a statutory function for local authorities within England and Wales.  They have no discretion and must provide the appropriate resources, funding and support to enable HM Coroner's to carry out any statutory role and responsibilities.

What you can expect from the Coroner's Service 

  • An explanation of the role of the Coroner

  • Help in understanding the cause of death of the person who died

  • What further action may take place once the case is under the jurisdiction of the Coroner

  • Explain the process or procedures that take place

  • Inform you of your rights and responsibilities

  • Endeavour to take into account your wishes, feelings and expectations, including religious beliefs and traditions relating to post mortems, mourning and funerals

  • Keep in regular contact and provide any relevant or appropriate contact information

  • Respect individuality and privacy

  • Treat you with fairness, sensitivity, dignity and respect

  • Accommodate and make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities

  • Treat children and young people in a way appropriate to their age

  • Help find further support if needed

  • Provide information about making a complaint 

What the Coroner and his representatives/staff expect from bereaved or families

  • To cooperate fully and to provide promptly any information requested

  • To treat information provided or disclosed in confidence

  • To inform the Coroner or their representative as soon as possible of any relevant considerations or requests you may have throughout the process

  • To provide up to date contact information so you can be contacted promptly

  • To inform the coroner of any concerns, worries or comments you may have about the death

  • To treat the Coroner and his support staff with courtesy and respect

  • To dress appropriately when attending an inquest

The Coroner may be able to establish that a death was due to natural causes, and a doctor will be able to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD).  If this is the case then, with the appropriate paperwork, the death can be registered at a registration office.

However, in many cases the Coroner will require a post-mortem to be carried out.  This is a medical examination of the body to find out more about the cause of death.  If a post mortem is required then the Coroner will arrange for the deceased to be taken to the local hospital for this to be carried out.  The family or next of kin cannot object to a post-mortem ordered by the Coroner, but the Coroner will try to take into account any religious or other objections.

If a post-mortem shows that the death was due to natural causes the Coroner will issue a notification of this so that the death can be registered.  However, if the Coroner establishes the death was not due to natural causes then he is obliged to hold a formal inquest.

The Coroner holds a medical/legal enquiry into the death of the deceased, then an inquest is required.  This is an investigation to establish facts and a public court hearing, not a trial where blame is apportioned.

The purpose of an inquest is to establish the identity of the deceased, when, where and how the death occurred and to establish the facts required by the Registrar.  In some cases the Coroner may be able to open, then adjourn the inquest and issue paperwork to allow a funeral to take place.

An inquest adjourned will be re-opened at a later date to continue investigations and to determine the circumstances surrounding the death.  This may involve witnesses being called, who are legally obliged to attend. 

Further information regarding the Coroner and an inquest

Once an inquest has been held the Coroner will send a report to the Registrar in the district where the death occurred.  The Registrar will then register the death.  This can be done without anyone having to attend to do so.

The Coroner will inform the Registrar of the person who should be notified that the death has been registered.  The next of kin or relatives may then need to purchase some additional death certificates for legal purposes such as Banks, Insurance or Pension Schemes.

Each certificate is a certified copy of the entry in the Death Register and costs £11 at the time of the initial request after inquest or thereafter.  Where there is a delay between the death and the holding of an inquest it is possible for the coroner to issue interim death certificates if requested.

Important information:
The Coroners Service in Cumbria has moved to a new electronic case management system. This is part of a long-term plan to further improve the administration and management of coronial cases, and help with a wider program within both the coroners service and local authority to use electronic communication methods, moving away from paper based systems and records.

Please send all written correspondence to the Coroners Service by email rather than post or fax.

The email address is:

Where practical all other enquiries for, or to provide information to, the Coroners Service should be made via email rather than by telephone. Where required this will enable us to provide more detailed and fuller responses to any such enquiries.

Contact information

For all information or enquiries concerning specific cases where deaths have occurred in Cumbria and have been referred to HM Coroner, or for details regarding any inquests (current/ongoing or past), please contact the Coroners Officer as detailed below, (or if unavailable, please contact the Administration and Support Team). 

(If the death, or any subsequent investigation and / or inquest did not occur in Cumbria you will need to contact the coronial area where the death occurred).

HM Coroners:

Ms Kally Cheema 
HM Senior Coroner (Cumbria Area) 

Ms Kirsty Gomersal
HM Area Coroner (Cumbria Area)

Dr Nicholas Shaw, Ms. Margaret Taylor, Mr Craig Smith & Mr Robert Cohen 
Assistant HM Coroners (Cumbria Area)

Contact details:

HM Coroners Office
Station Road
CA13 9PT

(Opening hours: Monday to Friday - 9am to 5pm)

We would respectfully request that all enquiries and correspondence, including the submission of any documentation or written information, are made by email. The email address is as follows:

However, the office can be contacted on 0300 303 3180 if the circumstance require.

Service Management and Administration

Under current legislation the Coroners Service is hosted by Cumbria County Council, and responsibility for the service rests with:

Ms. Iolanda Puzio
Chief Legal Officer (and Monitoring Officer), Cumbria County Council.

For any general enquiries regarding the overall administration and/or management of the Coroners Service in Cumbria please contact: 

Mr Andrew Smith - Manager / Professional Lead, HM Coroners Services

(Please do NOT use the above if your enquiry is regarding information specific deaths reported to the coroner, individual cases, or specific inquests. You will need to contact the HM Coroner direct regarding these matters - See 'How to contact the Coroner). 

By post:

Cumbria County Council
Cumbria House
107-117 Botchergate
CA1 1RD 

Further information about the coroners service can be found at:

UK Government website section relating to Coroners

Ministry of Justice Guide to the Coroners and Inquests, and Charter for Coroners Services

Coroner's Support Service

The Coroners' Courts Support Service is a registered charity whose volunteers give emotional and practical support to families and other witnesses attending Inquests at the following Coroner's Courts.


All HM Coroners are committed to providing a service which meets the needs of the bereaved / next of kin, and they welcome any feedback (including when the service has performed well). You should direct this to the HM Coroner who dealt with the case.

How to challenge a coroner's decision or the outcome of an inquest

You may challenge a coroner's decision or an inquest conclusion.

If you are thinking about doing this you should first seek advice from a lawyer with expertise in this area of the law.

Some bereavement support organisations may also be able to offer advice.

If you decide to proceed, you need to make an application to the High Court for judicial review of the coroner's decision or conclusion. You should do this as soon as possible and within three months of the end of the investigation.

There is a separate power under which the Attorney General, or someone who has received the Attorney General's permission to do so, may apply to the High Court for an investigation to be carried out if a coroner has not held one; or for another investigation if this is in the interests of justice (e.g. because new evidence has come to light).

There is no time limit for these applications.

Complaints about a coroner's personal conduct

HM Coroners are 'independent judicial officers', and are not employed by the local authority.  The local authority cannot review a Coroners performance, enforce practices, procedure or policy, or invoke any disciplinary procedures. HM Coroners answer to the Chief Coroner, the Ministry of Justice and, ultimately, the Lord Chancellor.

If you are unhappy with any aspect of the service you have received or you are dissatisfied with a coroner's personal conduct, in the first instance please contact the appropriate HM Coroner direct as it is often more productive and easier for all concerned if issues can be resolved locally, and direct with the HM Coroner.

If the coroner is unable to deal with your complaint satisfactorily, you may complain to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

The purpose of this privacy notice is to advise what information is collected about individuals who use the Coroner Service in Cumbria, and how that information is used and who it may be shared with.

'Data Controller'
For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 other regulations including the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (GDPR), HM Senior Coroner for Cumbria is the 'Data Controller'. It is their duty to determine what any data collected is used for, and why it is collected. 

HM Senior Coroner in Cumbria is also supported by HM Area Coroner and five Assistant Coroners.

The contact details for HM Senior Coroner, and Data Controller, for the Coroners Service in Cumbria, are:

HM Senior Coroner (Cumbria)
Fairfield, Station Road
CA13 9PT


Telephone: 0300 303 3180

Personal information held and the legal basis for it being used / processed
Where appropriate and relevant, HM Coroners Service will collect the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Medical history from GP and hospitals
  • Cause of death
  • Family details
  • Lifestyle and social circumstances
  • Addictions
  • Financial details
  • Employment and education details
  • Occupation and place of work
  • Offences and alleged offences contained in police report
  • Physical or mental health details
  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Religious or other beliefs
  • Criminal proceedings, outcomes and sentences
  • Results of DNA reports and finger reports results
  • Juror information - name, address, bank account details to pay expenses
  • Witnesses - name, address, bank account details to pay expense 

When deciding what personal information we collect, use and/or hold, we are committed to ensuring that we will:

  • Only collect, hold and/or use personal information where it is necessary and fair to do so
  • Keep your personal information secure and safe
  • Securely dispose of any personal information when it is no longer needed

The data is collected because HM Coroner is required to do so under the Coroners Act 1988, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and its subordinate legislation, and other legislation relating to their administrative and judicial functions.

How long will your data be kept?
Matters reported to HM Coroner in Cumbria, and that are deaths due to natural causes (Form 100A and 100B) are retained for 15 years, after which the paper documents are destroyed.  

Electronic records will be held indefinitely.

For all cases which result in an Inquest taking place are held indefinitely, in paper form and electronically, by the Cumbria Archive Service.

Why we need to collect your data
HM Senior Coroner (and the HM Area Coroner / Assistant Coroners) must investigate all deaths which are violent or unnatural; where the cause of death is unknown; death while in custody or state detention. 

Any personal data is collected to enable them to administer the running of a Coroner's Office and carry out any statutory responsibilities under the relevant legislative frameworks.

In addition, we collect your personal data for the following:

  • Safeguarding (future prevention of death)
  • Statistical analysis and reporting 
  • Service delivery

Who do we share your data with, and why
As all inquests are publically accessible, the relevant data will be shared with those attending the proceedings, including the press / media.

Article 23 of the GDPR introduces exemptions from the regulations of GDPR for the purpose of the protection of judicial independence and proceedings.

During the course of undertaking their statutory duties, HM Senior Coroner (and the HM Area Coroner / Assistant Coroners) may be required to share data with the following stakeholders and other organisations:

  • Cumbria County Council
  • Cumbria Constabulary / Police
  • Pathologists
  • Funeral directors and undertakers within Cumbria or where relevant outside Cumbria
  • Local Coroners - specifically where cases are transferred to/from Cumbria
  • NHS Hospital Trusts within the Coroners Area
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups covering Cumbria
  • Chief Coroner
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service
  • British Transport Police
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • Crown Prosecution Service
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • GP's, Doctors and Medical Professionals
  • Accident investigation branches
  • Cumbria Registration Services (Registrar of Births and Deaths)
  • Cemeteries and Crematoria within Cumbria or where relevant outside Cumbria
  • Families affected, appointed executors and representative of the person whose personal data we are processing
  • Financial organisations such as insurance companies and pension schemes
  • Cumbria Public Health for statistical purposes
  • Other organisations which from time to time are involved with an investigation and who are required to provide evidence or assistance to the Coroner

Where your data has been received from a third party
We primarily receive data from Cumbria Police, NHS Hospital Trusts in Cumbria, and GP's, Doctors and Medical Professionals. However, data will also be received from the other organisations listed above. The data we have includes personal details and/or sensitive classes of data.

Automated decision making
We do not use automated decision making systems.

Will any data be transferred abroad?

Use of CCTV at HM Coroners Offices
There are CCTV cameras installed both inside and outside the Coroners Offices at Cockermouth, and covering the car park. This is for the purposes of monitoring building security and crime prevention and detection.

Images captured by this CCTV are not retained for any longer than is necessary. However, on occasions there may be a need to keep images for longer periods, such as where a crime is being investigated. CCTV images will only be disclosed to third parties for the purposes stated above.

CCTV images will not be released to the media, used for entertainment purposes or placed on the internet.

HM Coroner in Cumbria also hosts inquests at other venues within Cumbria. Any CCTV in operation at those sites is controlled and managed by the organisations with either own, lease and/or manage those properties, and is out-with HM Coroners jurisdiction.