Information for bereaved families

Firstly, on behalf of the Senior Coroner and her team, can we pass on our sincere condolences if you are reading this as a recently bereaved family member. We are here to guide and support you during this difficult time so please don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification.

You may have had little/no contact from the Coroner Service before, therefore we appreciate this may be new for you.

Read our information for bereaved families and also our operational procedures for Ampthill Court House for in-person attendance.

Bereavement support

There's lots of bereavement support available through many support agencies.

Contact an agency to talk about the support you need.

View bereavement support agencies

Support for a death in custody

Support is available, for those affected by a death in custody, from the charity INQUEST.

INQUEST provides expertise on state-related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians.

Its specialist casework includes deaths:

  • in police and prison custody
  • in immigration detention
  • in mental health settings
  • involving multi-agency failings or where wider issues of state and corporate accountability are in question

Visit INQUEST's website to find out how it can help

What a death in custody is

When a death happens in prison, police custody or other state detention, there must be an inquest. Other state detention can include being held under the Mental Health Act 1983.

In cases where the state or public body might have had obligations relating to the circumstances around a death, including where a person has died in police custody or in prison, the inquest may become what is known as an ‘Article 2’ inquest.

This refers to the state’s obligations to protect life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The inquest process is likely to look and feel the same as other inquests, but the coroner or jury will be required to investigate more widely into some of the factual circumstances of the death.