When a death is reported to the coroner

Around 800 deaths are referred to HM Coroner for Milton Keynes every year, with approximately 120 of those resulting in an inquest.

Inquests are held at the Coroner's Court, based at Civic, into unexpected deaths, deaths with no obvious natural cause as well as any deaths resulting from accidents.  

When is a death reported?

Normally a doctor will report a death to the coroner or police. However, anyone who is uneasy about the apparent cause of death has the right to inform the Coroner for the district. You can get in touch by telephoning 01908 254327 and asking for the Coroner’s officer.

After receiving a death certificate, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages may also report a death directly to the Coroner. In these cases, there will be a delay before the death can be registered, which may impede the funeral arrangements.

A death is reported to the coroner when:

  • the cause of death is unknown
  • the death cannot readily be certified as being due to natural causes
  • the deceased was not attended by the doctor during their last illness
  • the deceased was not seen within the last 14 days or viewed after death
  • there are any suspicious circumstances or history of violence
  • the death may be linked to an accident - whenever it occurred
  • there is a question of self-neglect or neglect by others
  • the death has occurred or the illness arose during or shortly after detention in police custody - including voluntary attendance at a police station
  • the deceased was detained under the Mental Health Act
  • the death is linked to an abortion
  • the death might have been contributed to by the actions of the deceased - such as a history of drug or solvent abuse, self-injury or overdose
  • the death could be due to industrial disease or related in any way to the deceased's employment
  • the death occurred during an operation or before full recovery from the effects of an anaesthetic or was in any way related to the anaesthetic - any such death occurring within 24 hours should normally be referred
  • the death may be related to a lack of medical care or there is an allegation of medical mismanagement
  • the death may be related to medical treatment - invasive or not
  • there are any other unusual or disturbing features 
  • the death occurred within 24 hours of admission to hospital
  • an expectant mother dies - during pregnancy or childbirth
  • the death is a still birth

What does the Coroner do when a death is reported?

The Coroner will consult with the deceased’s GP, who will advise whether they are satisfied with the cause of death. If the GP is satisfied, the coroner will issue the certificate, enabling the family to register the death as normal.

When the coroner decides to investigate a death, an inquest is held. The death can only be registered after the coroner's inquiries are complete and a certificate is provided.

The coroner's inquiry will usually start with a post mortem.  If this shows that the death was due to natural causes, the coroner will inform the family and the registrar, issue a certificate and the death can be registered in the normal way.

The funeral must wait for the outcome of the coroner’s investigation, although in some circumstances the family or funeral director will be able to make provisional funeral arrangements whilst the investigation is proceeding.

More information can be found in the  'Guide to coroner services'  written for people affected by a coroner investigation.


HM Coroners office contact

HM Coroner's Office contact information

Civic, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ