Coroner service privacy notice

Everything we do with information about living people – such as how we collect it and who we share it with – has to comply with the relevant Data Protection legislation. A key part of this is being open about how we use information and what rights you have in respect of information we hold about you.

If anything in this notice is not clear, or if you have further queries, please get in contact with the Data Protection Officer using the details at the end.

Data Controller

HM Coroner, Mr David Heming, is the lead Data Controller for the Coroner Service for Cambridge and Peterborough. His Assistant Coroners act as Data Controllers for the cases for which they have jurisdiction.

Judicial Activities

The work of HM Coroner is undertaken as part of their judicial activities. This includes when a member of staff, police officer or other appointed investigator, is carrying out activities in pursuit of the coroner’s statutory powers and responsibilities. The Data Protection Act 2018 confirms that this work, and the data required to complete this work, is necessary of the administration of justice which is a task carried out in the public interest.

What information do we hold?

HM Coroner collects information solely for the investigation of deaths referred.

We hold personal data on two different categories of identifiable natural person:

  1. In relation to a deceased person. Living people can often be identified from the data which is held on a deceased person, for example the deceased’s Next of Kin, or their doctor or solicitor. It can also be possible to piece together information about living persons from data we hold on a deceased person. It should be noted that the personal information and records directly relating to the deceased is not covered by the Data Protection Act which relates only to living individuals.
  2. We also hold information on many other people that we are in contact with in the course of the Coroners work and investigations. Including staff, police officers, NHS staff, solicitors, ambulance staff, pathologists, witnesses and expert witnesses, specialists, jurors, other local authority officers, members of the public and Interested persons, etc..

In both categories personal information including contact details that HM Coroner and his staff identify and require during the investigations are held. Some of this information may include special personal data. All of this information is held securely.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council manage the Case Management System that provides the means by which data is processed. Deaths referred to the Coroner are recorded in this case management system. In addition and where required by HM Coroner, a paper record may also be created.

What do we use data for? Who we share information with and why?

HM Coroner uses the data gathered to inform investigations. This information is regularly shared with third parties. Much of the data we share with a third party is about a deceased person. However, as stated above, indirect identification can be made by piecing together information as an incidental consequence of the data processing. It is necessary for the HM Coroner and their staff to share information with a wide range of people when conducting their investigations. Data is shared in the purposes of the specific coronial investigation and so the judicial processing is necessary for the administration of justice. Therefore it is not necessary to seek explicit consent.

During the conclusion of an investigation Next of Kin information is shared with the relevant Registration Service Superintendent and their staff to conclude the investigation process and support the death registration procedure.

We also share information and data with various bodies, organisations and agencies, such as researchers; academics; safeguarding agencies; and suicide prevention services. Where possible we will anonymise the data, however sometimes due to the research information required it will not be anonymised. We will not share personal information for a Next of Kin for these purposes without receiving prior agreement from the individual. We recognise that this activity is covered by the provisions of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act and have considered how they apply to these activities.

Coroners and Officers only use secure email addressed when processing and communicating information and data relating to coronial investigations and work related activities. Corners will use ‘ejudiciary’ email accounts as they become available, Coroner Service officers and staff use Cambridgeshire County Council work email addresses. The Case Management System has functionality to send emails to interested persons and necessary partners directly. This email is also secure.

How long we keep hold of information for?

How long we hold information for is dependent on the Coronial case that it has been collected for. Any document in the possession of HM Coroner in connection with an investigation or post-mortem examination must be retained for at least 15 years. After this period information relating to inquest cases may be kept in the County Council archive for longer periods if it is considered to be of historical interest.

HM Coroner decides on the content of any case file and whether information relating to a living person should be kept. Information relating to inquest cases is retained in written and electronic format. Information relating to cases that do not require an Inquest is only stored electronically. Such information is stored in the Coroner Service Case Management System and the majority of contact information gathered remains in this system for up to 15 years.

What rights do you have?

You have limited rights regarding the data we hold about you.

There is an absolute exception from the various data subject rights and the obligations in the GDPR where personal data is processed by a coroner acting in a judicial capacity.

However you may make a request to HM Coroner regarding any data held. Any such request can be submitted to the Coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Whether he will agree to your request will depend on the specific circumstances and if we cannot then we will explain the reasons why.

If you feel that information is being held is respect of a non-judicial activity, please make your request to HM Coroner in the process outlined above. In line with GDPR guidance a response will be sent to the data subject within one month of the request being received.

The information Commissioner (ICO) does not have competence over the processing of personal data when it is carried out by HM Coroner acting in their judicial capacity. Supervision of judicial processing, including that carried out by HM Coroner, is by the Judicial Data Protection Panel. HM Coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has adopted this approach.

Data Breaches

Should a data breach occur, the Coroner Service will follow the Cambridgeshire County Council Data Breach and Notification Policy. The Senior Coroner will also inform the Chief Coroner within 72 hours.

If anything in this notice is not clear, or if you have further queries, please contact the Coroner Service.

If your concerns relate to non-judicial activities please contact:

Data Protection Officer, Cambridgeshire County Council, New Shire Hall, OCT1224, Emery Crescent, Enterprise Campus, Alconbury Weald, Huntingdon PE28 4YE.


Tel. 01223 699137

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