Changes to coroner duty in DoLS and authorisations under the Mental Health Act 2005

From today coroners are no longer required to conduct a formal inquest for every person who dies while under a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation following an amendment to the law.

In November 2016 ministers agreed to the amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill which removed the statutory duty of coroners to hold an inquest where the deceased was subject to a DoL under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This change meant that the deaths of those subject to a DoLS authorisation would no longer constitute a death ‘in state detention’ so there will be no automatic duty on coroners to investigate the case.

An inquest will still be required if the person died before April 3rd 2017. But, for any person subject to a DoLS authorisation who dies on the 3rd, or any time after, their death need not be reported to the coroner unless the cause of death is unknown or where there are concerns that the cause of death was unnatural or violent.

This will come as good news for coroners themselves in terms of making available valuable resources and the families of people who have died while subject to a DoLS who have no issues regarding the care but must go through the process of a coroner’s inquest, even where the death was entirely natural.

The Chief Coroner has issued a new guidance note on the changes and how they will work. Please go to the following website for more details – www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/guidance-no-16a-deprivation-of-liberty-safeguards-3-april-2017-onwarrds.pdf

 

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