Chief coroner welcomes study

New Zealand's chief coroner says he welcomes what he describes as ''bitter criticism and some praise'' in an Otago study on the coronial system.

Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean said the system could use both work and resources to make it more effective.

University of Otago Legal Issues Centre acting director Dr Jennifer Moore released the study yesterday.

Judge MacLean said last night he welcomed the feedback ''whether it's good, bad or indifferent''.

Dr Moore had been in contact as the study developed, and the coroners' office had already been considering what it could do better.

One criticism in the study was of untargeted recommendations following an investigation into a death, meaning those who needed the information did not receive it.

''We took that on board and the coroners have really got that message,'' he said.

''You need to take the trouble to say: `Where's the best person to send this recommendation to?' so

they can respond, and we know it's not disappearing out into the ether and nobody reads it,'' Judge MacLean said.

On criticism about under-resourcing, he said the office was in the same situation as others in the judicial system.

''We've got to live with the reality we've got shrinking budgets; that there is no more new money.''

He agreed with a suggestion of mandatory reporting for organisations receiving coroners' recommendations, making sure they made a formal written response saying what, if anything, they proposed to do.

''I've been plugging [that] with no success.''

''At the moment, it's a lost battle as far as I'm concerned because the minister's [Courts Minister Chester Borrows] made it plain the Government's not interested in that; they don't think it's a good idea. I continue to think it's a good idea.''

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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