Coroners are independent judicial officers who are available at all times to deal with matters relating to deaths that may require further investigation to establish the cause of death.
Coroners in Northern Ireland are either barristers or solicitors and are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission.
The Coroners Service is headed by a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Humphreys. There are currently four Coroners, Mr J McCrisken, Mrs A-L Toal, Miss M Dougan and Mrs L Fee.
Coroners inquire into deaths reported to them that appear to be:
- Unexpected or unexplained
- As a result of violence
- As a result of an accident
- As a result of negligence
- From any cause other than natural illness or disease, or
- In circumstances that may require investigation
The Coroner will endeavour to establish the cause of death by ordering a post mortem examination, obtain witness statements and medical records as necessary, and proceed to holding an inquest if required.