Last updated:
21 December 2017

Coroner's Service

Details of where to go, who to contact, what action needs to be taken for inquests, and how to report treasure finds.

1 When a coroner investigates

Where:

  • deaths are violent or unnatural
  • the cause of death is unknown
  • deaths occur in police custody or prison. 

More information on what happens when a death is reported to the coroner, post-mortems and inquests is available on GOV.UK.

2 The West Sussex Coroner

The West Sussex Coroner is an independent judicial officer who works in partnership with West Sussex County Council.

The West Sussex Senior Coroner is Penelope Schofield.

3 Contact the Coroner's Service

Firstly, speak to a coroner officer handling a specific investigation.

If you have a general enquiry contact the Coroner's Service using the details below.

Office hours are 8.00am-4.00pm, Monday-Friday.

4 Inquest hearings

You can view the inquest hearing dates in the document below.

Before viewing, please note the following:

  • The list is updated every Tuesday evening and covers one month.
  • Please direct any queries to the Coroner’s officers.

Types of hearings

  • Opening – Where it is necessary for the Coroner to hold an inquest, the Coroner may initially formally open this inquest in public. At the opening, the Coroner will set the dates for subsequent hearings.
  • Full inquest – A full fact-finding inquiry in Court (with witnesses being called to give evidence) to establish who has died, how, when and where the death occurred.
  • Pre-inquest review/directions hearings – These hearings take place before the final inquest hearing, where those invited have the opportunity to raise procedural issues with the Coroner.
  • Documentary – Inquests where evidence is not in dispute, so no witnesses will be called. A summary of the evidence is read to the Court and the Coroner will give their findings.
  • Documentary plus – Inquests where the Coroner or family are seeking further evidence or clarification from a witness.
  • Jury inquest – These are usually held if a death occurred in prison or custody, or as result of an accident at work and the Coroner is obliged to sit with a jury to hear cases.
  • For mention – Where there is an update provided to the Coroner of the progress of the case and enable further directions to be made.

5 Coroners' Courts Support Service

Emotional and practical support to families and witnesses attending inquests can be found on the Coroners' Courts Support Service website.

6 The Treasure Act 1996

All finds of treasure must be reported to the coroner within 14 days of being found or having been identified as treasure.

More information on what is defined as treasure and how it is dealt with can be found on GOV.UK.

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