To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on enabling coroners to access departmental information to determine whether a person on whom an inquest has been held where the verdict was suicide was a veteran.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
11 March 2019
Any suicide is a tragedy, and we take the welfare of our brave service men and women extremely seriously.
For data on suicides amongst veterans to be of value, the information collected must be reliable, consistent and comprehensive. It is not possible to achieve this through coroners’ inquest conclusions for a number of practical and administrative reasons, including the parameters of the coroner’s role.
Ministry of Justice officials have talked to colleagues in the Chief Coroner’s Office about the issues to do with coroners recording whether the deceased had ever served in the armed forces.
Ministers from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence have not explicitly discussed coroners accessing information held by other government departments in suicide cases, but have on several occasions discussed the issue of veterans in inquests. More widely, the Government recognises the need to gather data on veterans in the criminal justice system. The Ministry of Justice will continue to work with the Ministry of Defence and other government departments to explore how we can further this objective.