March 27, 2008 12:00 AM

Commenting on today's publication of Government Changes to the Coroners Bill and on Sensitive Reporting in Coroners Courts, Jenny Willott MP, Shadow Justice Spokesman, said:

"While the Government has made some improvements, this long overdue Bill is still only tinkering at the edges of a coroners' system that is already stretched to the limit.

"The number of coroner's inquests each year has risen by over 6,500 since 1997 and yet the number of full time coroners has fallen.

"This bill gives a lot of additional responsibilities to local authorities but provides no additional resources to help pay for it, leaving coroners stuck between Government legislation and cash-strapped local authorities.

"This bill is long overdue and should be brought forward without anymore delays. However, if the Government really wants to create a coroners system fit for the 21st century, it will have to be bolder in its reforms and back them up with real investment.

"On the reporting guidance, the media must demonstrate that they can act responsibly with these changes to the Editors' Code on reporting sensitive coroner's cases.

"The recent suggestions that the number of teenage suicides in Bridgend has been in part driven by media coverage, demonstrates how crucial a role the media can play, and how important it is that they don't get it wrong."

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