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If the post­-mortem examination – or subsequent tests – show that death is from unnatural causes, an inquest will be held.

There are certain cases where a Coroner is obliged to hold an inquest even when the death is from natural causes, such as when someone has been in state detention e.g under arrest or in prison, at the time of death.

The Coroner will open the inquest in order to issue a burial order or cremation certificate, whilst also hearing evidence to confirm identity of the deceased.

The inquest will then be adjourned to be resumed at a later date. When the Coroner’s investigations are complete, a date for the inquest is set and the people who need to know are told. Inquests are open to the public and journalists are usually present. From 2013 most inquests have taken place within six months of death.

Inquests are not there to determine blame and no verdict will identify someone as having criminal or civil liability.