Sunday, 19 May 2019

Coroners and Crime Scenes -- In 1940 by Jan Edwards

On reading out a section of work in progress at my writing group I was asked whether a coroner really would attend a scene of crime in 1940.  And I had to admit that I didn't know. Online  research had let me down somewhat on this one as the only references I could find were in a modern context.
Pottering back from an appointment pondering this question I realised that I was strolling past the Coroner’s Offices on Hartshill Road (as you do). So with a little time to spare I wandered in and asked. The Coroner’s clerks were really helpful and gave the following info.
In a modern context a coroner will rarely if ever attend a scene of crime, at least when the body is still on site. This is because SOCO teams now gather all of the necessary evidence. (One said he had never known it happen in the 20 years he had worked there.)
I was then told that in 1940, however, a coroner may well have gone to the scene of a homicide because SOCO teams, and indeed forensics to a great extent, were not so much in their infancy as positively embryonic, so that both coroners and/or pathologists would have had to be more hands-on in collecting evidence. Added to that is the small fact of it being war time when there were also far fewer police officers to do the leg work.
A little more research is required on the duties of coroners V pathologists in that era, but those few minutes unscheduled chatting were well worth the effort!
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You can read more about Jan and her Bunch Courtney books on her blog HERE
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3 comments:

Umberto Tosi said...

As one asiduous researcher to another, I salute your diligence. Acurate details heighten the verisimilitude of fiction - even fantasy, and even to those who would have not known the difference. Congratulations on what looks like another fine mystery.

Elizabeth Kay said...

Really interesting, and a valuable reminder that research alwys pays off.

janedwards said...

I will admit to being a bit of a research junkie. I don't use most of what I find out - but the need to know... that's the thing :-)