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Family to be put at centre of inquests, says chief.

CHIEF Coroner Judge Peter Thornton insists bereaved families will be put at the centre of the inquest system by government changes which came into force yesterday.

Coroners will be required to complete inquests within six months of being made aware of a death as part of a wider overhaul unveiled earlier this month, which also includes reporting any cases that last more than a year to Judge Thornton.

A new national code is to be formed to make sure all 96 coroners in England and Wales are working to the same standards.

Coroners will also be able to speed up the release of bodies after post-mortem examinations to allow burials and cremations to take place without the need for an inquest to be opened.

Judge Thornton, who is the first person to take up the chief coroner role, said there has been a "variable" service as coroners have been appointed and funded locally.

But he said he will have no extra resources to ensure coroners adhere to the new standards and he will have to encourage local authorities to give what is necessary.

Judge Thornton said: "The whole purpose is really to put bereaved families at the centre of the process and they must be a focus for a more efficient, effective and modern coroner's service.

"The process is going to be more open and public."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 30, 2013
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