On 14 May 2020, the most recent Coroners Statistic Annual Bulleting was published. This covers the period from January to December 2019, therefore it does not cover any COVID-19 related deaths.
Key statistics from the Annual Bulletin:
Overall deaths in state detention are down 7% from the previous year
Conclusions of suicide increased by 11%
Jury inquests increased to 527 in 2019 compared to 428 in 2018
The average time taken to process an inquest has risen to 27 weeks
The total number of deaths reported to coroners in 2019 was 210,912, which is a 4% decrease on the 2018 figure. Of those deaths reported nearly 30,000 inquests were opened, which is a 3% increase on 2018. The proportion of deaths reported to coroners is 40%.
The statistics show a 7% fall in deaths in state detention. In 2019, there were 478 deaths in state detention compared to 514 in 2018. Prison deaths decreased by 5% to 299, with a slight increase in the prison population recorded. On 30 April 2019, the Ministry of Justice released the latest “Safety in Custody” statistics, which showed 80 self-inflicted deaths in the 12 months prior to April 2020. The number of deaths of patients detained under the Mental Health Act has continued to reduce since 2016. There was a 16% decease from 171 deaths in 2018 to 144 in 2019. Deaths in immigration centres rose from 0 in 2018 to 2 in 2020.
There has been an increase in suicide being ruled as the cause of death. In 2019, a conclusion of suicide was reached in 4,620 inquests, which is an 11% increase from the previous year. This significant increase has been noted in media headlines and led to calls for increased mental health support across the country. Men accounted for 77% of the suicide verdicts in 2019. It is noted that this increase may be an effect of the standard of poof for suicide being lowered following R (Maughan) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire .
The length of time an inquest takes to conclusion is a continued concern for bereaved families. The statistics released show that the average time to conclusion has risen from 26 weeks in 2018 to 27 weeks in 2019.
Here at Farleys our specialist inquest team has represented clients in a number of inquests, be they deaths in police custody, deaths in medical care or otherwise. For information about obtaining representation at inquests, please contact the team on 0845 287 0939 or complete our online contact form.