(Press-News.org) GOVERNMENT plans to overhaul the centuries-old coroner system in England and Wales have been bolstered by the findings of a leading police officer who has become a PhD researcher at the University of Huddersfield. Detailed analysis by ex-Detective Chief Superintendent Max Mclean has shown that there are huge disparities between the decisions made by coroners in differing districts, with the troubling discovery that the deaths of women are considerably less likely to be investigated at an inquest.
The result is a "postcode lottery", claims Mr Mclean, who calls for a fully-fledged National Coroners' Service, overseeing a reduced number of districts, headed by fully-professional coroners. This means that he backs an announcement made by the Justice Minister that the coroner system will be reformed, with new national standards drawn up, but feels the reforms could go further. His statistical analysis – now the subject of two academic articles - will reinforce this process.
Mr Mclean – an ex-Head of West Yorkshire CID – acknowledges that there is a tension between retaining the independence of those who administer justice and the need for greater consistency between districts.
"But from my research is reasonable to infer that a bereaved family would receive a different outcome in two different coroner areas, where their loved had had died of identical facts presented to each coroner," he said.
Coroner consistency – The 10-jurisdiction, 10-year, postcode lottery?
Mr Mclean has published a new article in Medicine, Science and the Law, which is the official journal of the British Academy for Forensics Sciences. Entitled "Coroner consistency – The 10-jurisdiction, 10-year, postcode lottery?", it builds on findings reported in an earlier article - in the Journal of Clinical Pathology - based on data collected from the Ministry of Justice that detailed all inquest verdicts for the past 15 years and all deaths reported to coroners over a ten-year period.
This earlier research showed massive disparities between the 144 jurisdictions in England and Wales. The rate of deaths reported to coroners by medical practitioners ranged from 12 per cent to 87 per cent. Mr Mclean attributes this to the varied attitudes and working practices of coroners plus traditions entrenched in different jurisdictions.
Now Mr Mclean, for his latest article, has refined his research by concentrating on ten coroners' districts in England, all which have near identical caseloads and numbers of inquests. The districts vary demographically – ranging from Norfolk to South London - but Mr Mclean, having considered population and deprivation figures, does not believe that this is a factor in his findings.
He discovered that between the ten districts, over the course of ten years, there were substantial variations in reporting rates to the coroner. The proportion of deaths reported varied from 34% to 62% . Also, when cases did proceed to inquest, there was considerable variations between the districts in the range of verdicts – such as accidental death, death from natural causes, suicide or narrative verdict.
"The chief cause may be the different viewpoints of coroners, leading to different outcomes" said Mr Mclean. "Coroners will choose different verdicts according to local practice, so in some areas what might be deemed an accidental death might be death from natural causes elsewhere. A near identical caseload is no guarantee of similar decision making."
Personal viewpoint of coroners
Mr Mclean also found evidence that coroners would, to varying extents, record narrative verdicts as a substitute for suicide verdicts, leading to a confused national picture of suicide.
The only area of consistency discovered by Mr Mclean was that in all of the ten jurisdictions, male deaths were more likely to be reported to the coroner – 48 per cent as opposed to 37 of female deaths. Also, more reported male deaths proceeded to inquest – 16 per cent as opposed to nine percent - and more men were deemed to have died unnaturally (six per cent male, two per cent female).
More research is needed to explain this disparity, says Mr Mclean. A possible factor is that national statistics do not include an analysis of age in relation to death.
"Women do, on average, die older than men. However coroners are at least vulnerable to the suggestion that the deaths of women are not perhaps investigated as thoroughly as those of men. This may be because of the ancient nature of the coroner's jurisdiction and the way in which investigative techniques have developed in the coronial system.
" There is also some evidence that coroners individually favour particular verdicts according to whatever sex the deceased person is," added Mr Mclean.
His new article argues that services such as the criminal courts or the Crown Prosecution Service are subject to extensive national guidance in order to constrain idiosyncratic decision making, so there is no reason why this should not apply to the process of death investigation and classification.
This leads Mr Mclean to support moves towards a reformed coroner system, building upon that announced in 2013 by Justice Minister Helen Grant, with a goal to place the needs of bereaved families at the heart of the system.
University of Huddersfield
Sprawdź aktualny ranking najlepszych kredytów mieszkaniowych w Polsce - atrakcyjne kredytowanie nieruchomości.
New research shows huge disparities between the decisions made by coroners
Huddersfield researcher calls for national Coroners' Service in England and Wales to avoid the current postcode lottery
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
Researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth have found that the body's immune system response was enhanced when they disrupted VISTA, a protein that prevents the immune system from overreacting. Understanding how checkpoint regulators like VISTA function is important to cancer researchers, who hope to use the immune system to attack tumors. The study, "VISTA deficiency synergizes with a nonredundant immune checkpoint pathway and leads to enhanced immune activation," will be presented on April 7, 2014 at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting ...
DETROIT – An innovative kidney transplant technique developed by Henry Ford Hospital is credited as the first in the world to use a new set of patient safety standards coordinated by the University of Oxford in England. The standards are being assembled and offered as a framework for developing, performing and reporting surgical innovations that, unlike new medical treatments, are not under strict regulations and control. One historic example cited by the Oxford group was the introduction of tracheostomy as a surgical method of treating an obstruction in the trachea. ...
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Unique laboratory testing during breast cancer lumpectomies to make sure surgeons remove all cancerous tissue spares patients the need for a repeat lumpectomy in roughly 96 percent of cases at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, a success rate much higher than the rate nationally, a Mayo study shows. During the years reviewed, 13.2 percent of breast cancer lumpectomy patients nationally had to return to the operating room within a month of their initial surgery, compared to 3.6 percent at Mayo in Rochester, which uses a technique called frozen section analysis ...
(MEMPHIS, TENN. - April 6, 2014) The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital-Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has identified new mutations in pediatric brain tumors known as high-grade gliomas (HGGs), which most often occur in the youngest patients. The research appears today as an advance online publication in the scientific journal Nature Genetics. The discoveries stem from the most comprehensive effort yet to identify the genetic missteps driving these deadly tumors. The results provide desperately needed drug development leads, particularly for ...
Frankfurt / New York, 7 April 2014 – Renewable energy's share of world electricity generation continued its steady climb last year despite a 14 per cent drop in investments to US$214.4 billion, according to a new report released today. According to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014 – produced by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance — the investment drop of $US35.1 billion was partly down to the falling cost of solar photovoltaic ...
NEW YORK (April 7, 2014)—A study by researchers at Columbia University reports that schoolchildren from three school districts in Maine exposed to arsenic in drinking water experienced declines in child intelligence. While earlier studies conducted by the researchers in South Asia, and Bangladesh in particular, showed that exposure to arsenic in drinking water is negatively associated with child intelligence, this is the first study to examine intelligence against individual water arsenic exposures in the U.S. Findings are reported online in the journal, Environmental ...
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Twitter and other social networking services have revolutionized the way people create and maintain relationships. However, new research shows that Twitter use could actually be damaging to users' romantic relationships. Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, found that active Twitter users are far more likely to experience Twitter–related conflict with their romantic partners. Clayton's results showed that Twitter-related conflict then leads to negative relationship outcomes, including emotional and physical ...
Amsterdam, NL, April 7, 2014 – Two studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicate that some of the pathologic changes associated with Alzheimer's disease in older individuals are not apparent in young people who carry the apolipoprotein (APOE) genetic risk factor for developing the disease. In the first study, no differences were found in hippocampal volume or asymmetry between cognitively normal adolescent carriers and non-carriers of the ApoE ɛ4 or ɛ2 allelles. The second study reports no differences in plasma concentrations of amyloid-β ...
Several studies have looked at possible links between maternal obesity during pregnancy and the risk of developmental disorders in the child. However, paternal obesity could be a greater risk factor than maternal obesity, according to a new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. As the first researcher to study the role of paternal obesity in autism, Dr. Pål Surén emphasises that this is still a theory and requires much more research before scientists can discuss possible causal relationships. "We have a long way to go. We must study genetic factors ...
Recently published research in the University of Eastern Finland found that fatty acid composition in blood is not only a biomarker for the quality of dietary fat but also reflects the quality of dietary carbohydrates. For example the proportion of oleic acid was higher among children who consumed a lot of candy and little high-fibre grain products. Earlier studies on the topic have mainly concentrated on the association of the quality of dietary fat with fatty acid composition in blood. In the present study, the association of the quality of dietary carbohydrates with ...