The BC Coroners Service is responsible for investigating and determining the circumstances of all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths in the province. It makes recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances.
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The Coroners Act and Regulation governs the coroner's scope of activity. The Coroners Service makes recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances. For each death, the coroner will determine:
- The identity of the deceased
- When, where, and by what means the deceased came to their death
- The classification of death:
- Whether any reasonable or practical recommendations may be made to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.
The Coroners Service is responsible for the investigation of all child deaths (a child being a person under the age of 19 years) in B.C. and reviews all child deaths to discover and monitor trends and determine whether further evaluation is necessary or desirable in the public interest.
The Coroners Service also investigates all deaths in custody and all deaths in designated institutions. The coroner must establish the identity of the deceased, and when, where, how and by what means death occurred. Coroners then report their findings in writing to the Chief Coroner.
Some deaths may be handled by a public inquest rather than a regular Coroners Investigation.
A group of deaths with similar factors may also be investigated in aggregate through a Coroners’ Death Review Panel.
One of the agency’s most important responsibilities is the advancement of recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances. The agency maintains a database and conducts ongoing surveillance of common causes and circumstances of death in order to identify public health and safety risks and trends. When such issues are identified, the agency may conduct additional reviews and studies aimed at establishing effective and practical prevention measures.