The Grenfell Tower fire shows the need to give coroners’ recommendations more teeth.
On 28 March 2013 the coroner, after verdicts were returned on the deaths of six people in Lakanal House in 2009, made important and potential life saving recommendations (see for example her Letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government). These were made under then rule 43 – now the Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013 reg 28 and 29.
The government in over 4 years does not appear to have acted upon that report. Has the time not come to ensure that such vital recommendations are not ignored?
These coroner reports are usually made after an exhaustive review of the situation – and with the ability of all interested parties to make submissions. They are written after a review of the key issues undertaken with more forensic precision and over a far greater time than can usually be afforded by Parliament. Hence my “off the cuff” suggestion on Twitter that key coroner recommendations should be afforded a status akin to a negative statutory instrument: i.e. binding unless parliament overrules. This would force government to act and avoid life-saving issues being kicked into the long grass. In any event Parliament should act now to ensure coroners’ reports are not ignored in the future.