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Writer with questions regarding drownings and inquests


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Hello all, another writer here. I'm currently writing a short story, and it begins with a couple finding a corpse drifting down a river. I've completed a rough draft, but I want to make sure that every detail is perfect. My research has left me with a few questions (okay, a bit more than that - there's eleven, and a few are cheeky two-in-ones).

Specifically, this is the situation: the police have been informed, by phone, that a body is in a river. The body is floating, presumed dead by the witnesses. Here are my questions:

1. In the event of this, how many policemen/women would come out to the scene? One, two, more?


2. Would an ambulance come with the police, even if the body is presumed to be a corpse by this point?

3. Either a doctor or a coroner must confirm the death. Would they come with the police, or would they be called after the police have arrived?

4. What type of questions would the police (or the coroner) ask a witness in this situation?

5. Do coroners/doctors typically have sirens on their cars in this country? Would they use them in this instance?

6. I understand that witnesses are offered Victim Support. What else would witnesses be informed about at the scene? Would they be warned that they may need to give evidence if an inquest takes place?

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I’ve read that the post-mortem generally occurs within three working days, but my next set of questions surround what happens if the coroner decides to open an inquest.


7. I understand that there is usually a preliminary inquest. How promptly does this take place after the post-mortem?

8. Are witnesses informed about the preliminary inquest? If so, who informs them, and by what means (telephone, letter, etc.)?

9. Do witnesses have to attend the preliminary inquest?

10. Let’s say that there isn’t much police investigation to be done. How soon, generally speaking, would the proper inquest begin?

11. When would the witnesses be told that they have to give evidence at the inquest? Who would inform them, and by what means (telephone, letter, etc.)?

I realise that there are quite a lot of questions here, and perhaps the ones about inquests are best suited to a coroner forum (if such a whacky thing exists). That said, any answers to any of the above would be hugely appreciated.

Cheers.

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I must admit i do find this all terribly unnerving, why on earth do you want to know all this. I know you are writing a book but why would you want to know such detail?

Just wondering.



No offence intended.

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I must admit i do find this all terribly unnerving, why on earth do you want to know all this. I know you are writing a book but why would you want to know such detail?

Just wondering.

No offence intended.

Because I don't want the small details of the story to be incorrect. Little errors could make an editor think twice when it comes to publishing it.

For example: let's say I write that two police officers came to the scene with no doctor. What if that isn't the protocol in real life? My story immediately loses realism and credibility.

Later on in the story, my characters are required to give evidence at an inquest. But do they need to attend a preliminary inquest first? Again, it's important that I get the details right.

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Well, i will do my best. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you look at it, different forces do things differently.

1. In the event of this, how many policemen/women would come out to the scene? One, two, more? - It may be one, it may be more. At first it would probably just be who was nearby and available to check it out.


2. Would an ambulance come with the police, even if the body is presumed to be a corpse by this point? An ambulance would probably be called, just in case. Police can certify death in specific circumstances, but if the body is reasonably fresh then the police might struggle. And you never know, they might be alive.

3. Either a doctor or a coroner must confirm the death. Would they come with the police, or would they be called after the police have arrived?

For a straightforward death, ie elderly person at home with long term illness, then the police would assess, can certify death and would recover the body and send a report to the coroner As things get more complicated and unusual you get higher ranked supervision, CID and then the on call coroner will be called to the scene by the officer, usually a senior officer will make the request.

4. What type of questions would the police (or the coroner) ask a witness in this situation? - All their personal details, how they came across the person, did they see, hear anything else, unusual before hand or after. Did they do anything to the body.

5. Do coroners/doctors typically have sirens on their cars in this country? Would they use them in this instance? - Some Dr';s do. I have never seen a coroners, but then again i dont recall seeing them at a scene for a long time.

6. I understand that witnesses are offered Victim Support. What else would witnesses be informed about at the scene? Would they be warned that they may need to give evidence if an inquest takes place?- They might be asked about giving evidence. If they had something crucial to say they might have a statement taken there and then, or back at the station. On the statement there is a piece about being willing to go to court

Unfortunately i know squat about inquests.

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Well, i will do my best. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you look at it, different forces do things differently.

1. In the event of this, how many policemen/women would come out to the scene? One, two, more? - It may be one, it may be more. At first it would probably just be who was nearby and available to check it out.

2. Would an ambulance come with the police, even if the body is presumed to be a corpse by this point? An ambulance would probably be called, just in case. Police can certify death in specific circumstances, but if the body is reasonably fresh then the police might struggle. And you never know, they might be alive.

3. Either a doctor or a coroner must confirm the death. Would they come with the police, or would they be called after the police have arrived?

For a straightforward death, ie elderly person at home with long term illness, then the police would assess, can certify death and would recover the body and send a report to the coroner As things get more complicated and unusual you get higher ranked supervision, CID and then the on call coroner will be called to the scene by the officer, usually a senior officer will make the request.

4. What type of questions would the police (or the coroner) ask a witness in this situation? - All their personal details, how they came across the person, did they see, hear anything else, unusual before hand or after. Did they do anything to the body.

5. Do coroners/doctors typically have sirens on their cars in this country? Would they use them in this instance? - Some Dr';s do. I have never seen a coroners, but then again i dont recall seeing them at a scene for a long time.

6. I understand that witnesses are offered Victim Support. What else would witnesses be informed about at the scene? Would they be warned that they may need to give evidence if an inquest takes place?- They might be asked about giving evidence. If they had something crucial to say they might have a statement taken there and then, or back at the station. On the statement there is a piece about being willing to go to court

Unfortunately i know squat about inquests.

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Thank you for your excellent answers!

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