Hope for speedier religious burials as coroner’s out-of-hours service is investigated

The government has announced a review into out-of-hours coroner services after members of Muslim and Jewish communities complained they were being prevented from providing their loved ones with proper religious burials.

The Ministry of Justice is to begin a consultation later this year that could see St Pancras Coroner’s Court among a number to bring in weekend and evening services to allow for improved access and speedy burials.

It comes after a long campaign by religious communities in north London to have coroners’ hours extended.

In 2013, St Pancras Coroner’s, which covers Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets, withdrew its out-of-hours service when Mary Hassell was brought in as senior coroner, prompting some anger.

The complaints were brought to the fore last year after the death of a leading rabbi from Jerusalem in Stamford Hill.

Rabbi Nathan Tibor Donath’s loved ones suffered a three-day hold-up in the signing of his death certificate.

Cllr Abdul Hai, Camden Council cabinet member for customers, communities and culture, has long been campaigning for coroner hours to be extended.

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He said: “The inability of the coroner’s service to respond to out-of-hours or weekend calls and enquiries and a lack of an around-the-clock service, particularly impacts upon members of the Muslim and Jewish communities who strive to bury their deceased as soon as possible.

“The service must be brought into line with 21st century ethos around support and compassion for bereaved families and customer services for a diverse population.”