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Suspicious death

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Title: Suspicious death  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Legal procedure, Death, Mortality displacement, Death notification, Necrobiology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Suspicious death

A death is suspicious if it is unexpected and its circumstances or cause are medically or legally unexplained. Normally, this occurs in the context of medical care or suspected criminal activity.[1]

Legal procedure

United Kingdom

In cases of suspicious death in England, the police are required to contact a coroner, who will open an inquest, which is automatically adjourned to allow the police to continue their investigations. This adjourned inquest means that the death can be officially registered and a temporary death certificate issued. If, as a result of police enquiries, a criminal is charged or an accident is shown to have occurred, a full death certificate is issued. Otherwise, the coroner holds a full inquest. In Scotland, the coroner's functions are carried out by a "procurator fiscal", who is appointed by the Lord Advocate to investigate unexpected or accidental deaths.[2]

Any suspicious death of a British national outside of Britain is required to be investigated through an inquest.[3] When a suspicious death occurs aboard a British naval or merchant vessel, the body is preserved by refrigeration until the ship arrives at port, at which point the police and coroner begin their investigations.[4]


  1. ^ Timmermans, Stefan (2006). Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths. University of Chicago Press. 
  2. ^ Duckett, Thomas (2003). Surviving Violent Crime and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. T.S. Duckett. pp. 82–90. 
  3. ^ Davies, Alex (2008). Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act. Workplace Law Group. p. 115. 
  4. ^ Green, Jennifer & Michael (2006). Dealing with Death: A Handbook of Practices, Procedures and Law. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. p. 52. 
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