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Kent Stewart – Chief Coroner Ministry of Justice

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1 Kent Stewart – Chief Coroner Ministry of Justice
Embracing Life – Northern Saskatchewan Working Together – Prince Albert “When A Death Occurs” Kent Stewart – Chief Coroner Ministry of Justice Sgt. Brent Olberg RCMP – Major Crimes Saskatoon

2 The Coroners Act, 1999 (Legislative Authority)
The Coroners Act, 1999 of Saskatchewan is the provincial legislation that provides Chief Coroner/Coroners with the Coroners with the statutory authority and power to investigate deaths in Saskatchewan.

3 Mandate Purpose (legislation)
The purpose of the Act is to facilitate a coroner system that: provides for independent and impartial investigations into, and public inquests respecting, the circumstances surrounding unexpected, unnatural or unexplained deaths; determined the identity of a deceased person and how, when, where and by what means that person died;

4 uncovers dangerous practices or conditions that may lead to death;
d. educates the public respecting dangerous practices and conditions; and e. publicizes and maintains records of and the circumstances surrounding causes of death.

5 Saskatchewan Coroners Service Statistics (Deaths Reported)
Classification 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Natural 816 785 775 773 683 671 643 543 Accident 362 380 393 501 470 500 502 445 Suicide 124 114 139 131 161 142 138 120 Homicide 43 44 28 30 40 34 26 Undetermined 51 42 36 31 55 27 Incomplete 1 10 6 102 Non-coroner 46 92 184 236 388 427 447 547 TOTAL: 1442 1459 1561 1708 1769 1811 1825 1810 2002 – 8906 deaths 2003 – 8829 deaths 2004 – 8881 deaths 2005 – 8844 deaths 16 – 17% of all deaths are investigated by coroners.

6 Role of the Coroner To direct a thorough examination of the death which includes the scene, the body & the history/circumstances to focus on answering the questions who, when, where, how and why To assist police in a criminal investigation To order an autopsy and/or toxicology tests as required Coroner has jurisdiction over the body in all cases including suspicious deaths Coroner is responsible for transportation of body Currently there are approximately 150 coroners located throughout the Province.

7 Role of the Police Officer
In most cases, the first investigator at the scene is a police officer The police officer wears two (2) hats Firstly, he/she is a criminal investigator or responsible for determining whether there is any evidence to suggest that the death is suspicious or homicide (secure scene, notify major crime). In these circumstances, the primary role of the coroner is to assist the police Secondly, in cases that are not suspicious, the police officer wears another hat, assisting the coroner with the investigation The police officer must be aware of which hat he/she wears as their role and powers in each are often different

8 Authorities Under The Coroners Act
enter and inspect any place where the body and any place from which the coroner has reasonable grounds for believing the body was removed; conduct any investigation that he or she considers necessary; Examine and make copies of any record relating to the deceased or his of her circumstances; take possession of the body, if the body is in Saskatchewan and conduct an examination of the body; cordon off and protect the scene of death and remove any objects; and direct the assistance of any peace office to carry out the investigation.

9 Death Investigation must be centered on three essential elements (“the Cornerstones” or “the Golden Triangle”) The History/Circumstances The Scene The Body The coroners/police are the eyes and ears of the pathologist and in some circumstances the family.

10 Primary Focus of any Death Investigation is to answer five questions
Who died? Properly identify the decedent Where they died? When they died? What was the date and time? Why did they die? What was the medical cause of death? (autopsy/external examination, toxicology) How did they die? What was the manner of death; (natural, accident, suicide, homicide, undetermined) In addition, a primary focus of the Coroner is prevention.

11 Conclusions The coroner’s investigation is finalized by: Or
Completing the Report of Coroner (may contain recommendations in relation to prevention) Or Inquest

12 The Investigation – Non Criminal
Police are notified of a death usually by EMS, family or others Police attend and secure the scene and complete preliminary inquires. In cases that are not suspicious ie: natural, accident, suicide Police notify the coroner who may attend the scene The body can not be altered or moved without the authorization of the coroner The police will assist the coroner The coroner will examiner the scene and the body in order to document and collect information that may be critical to the outcome of the investigation (ie: is this a suicide, accident). The coroner will determine the need for further investigation including the need for an autopsy and make the appropriate arrangements for transport.

13 Investigation – Criminal/Suspicious
Police are notified of a death usually by EMS, family or others. Police attend and secure the scene and complete preliminary inquires. In cases that are criminal in nature or suspicious usually the major crime unit are summoned from Saskatoon. The crime scene must be thoroughly examined, photographed and documented . The coroner assists the police and will take control of the body usually after the scene has been processed. The coroner will make the necessary arrangements for transport and postmortem examination.

14 Challenges Our goal is to complete a thorough investigation in a respectful and timely manner however, there are challenges: Distance Resources ie: coroners, transportation Weather

15 The Work of the Coroner is a Barometer of the Health of our Communities
Physical Health Drug and Alcohol Use Mental Health (depression and suicide) Homelessness Violence


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