Research questions and approach
The research is focused on three main research questions:
1. How is the status and role of the bereaved at inquests defined in law and policy, and what are bereaved people’s own expectations and experiences of inquests?
To address this question, we are conducting a policy review and analysis, speaking to practitioners about the translation of policy into practice, and gathering personal accounts from bereaved people who have attended inquests in a wide range of circumstances. Methods to be used in gathering the personal accounts will include in-depth interviews, the elicitation of written narratives, and the conduct of Family Listening Days by the charity INQUEST.
2. To what extent, in what ways and circumstances, and for what purposes, should bereaved people be ‘at the heart’ of the coronial process and have an active role in inquest proceedings?
Answering this question will entail the identification and critical evaluation of contrasting rationales for the inclusion and involvement of bereaved people in inquests. These will include rationales that are articulated – whether explicitly or implicitly – in policy, legal and scholarly discourse about the nature and functions of the coroners’ service, and in the personal accounts gathered from bereaved people.
3. What policy and practice changes would support inclusion and involvement of bereaved people in inquests in ways that are viable, appropriate and attuned to their own expectations?
Drawing on our research findings and working in close collaboration with lay, policy and practitioner stakeholders, we will generate and disseminate recommendations for reform. We will, further, consider the applicability of the conclusions and recommendations to other legal proceedings which deal with contested deaths.
Professor Jessica Jacobson
Principal Investigator and Director of ICPR
Dr Hannah Rumble
Co-Investigator, Centre for Death and Society
Dr Penny Cooper
Dr Camillia Kong`
Researcher, Centre for Death and Society
Research Fellow, ICPR