INQUEST has a team of nine full-time and part time staff as well as a number of volunteers and interns who help us with our work.
Deborah Coles leads INQUEST's strategic policy, legal and parliamentary work and has considerable expertise in working to prevent death and ill treatment in all forms of detention and for more effective accountable learning.
She has been an expert advisor to numerous committees and inquiries including the Harris Review on the self inflicted deaths of young people in prison, the Independent Police Complaints Commission review of the investigation of Article 2 deaths and Baroness Corston's review of women in the criminal justice system. From 2009 – 2015 Deborah was a member of the cross government sponsored Independent Advisory Panel on deaths in custody. She is the special advisor to the Chair of the Independent Review of deaths in police custody, and on the expert advisory group on the establishment of a national Healthcare Safety Investigation branch (HSIB).
She has expertise in specialist areas including coronial reform, policing, human rights compliant investigations, family engagement, traumatic bereavement, juvenile and youth justice, race and gender and criminal justice. She delivers conference papers nationally and internationally and is author of numerous articles and publications and is a regular media commentator. She is on the board of trustees of Clean Break and Women in Prison.
The four caseworkers, the trainee caseworker and the casework assistant make up our Casework Team. The team's primary role is to advise and support bereaved families on their rights in relation to the various investigations that occur after a death in custody. Dependent on time and resources they will accompany families to meetings with lawyers and with investigators from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) or the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as well as attend inquest hearings. The Caseworkers collate information gathered from previous deaths and from their experience of policy and practice and are a source of knowledge which is available to families and their legal teams. Where appropriate they will refer or signpost families to other specialist advice agencies.
Policy and Parliamentary Officer
The Policy and Parliamentary Officer develops INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work on the issues arising from casework to ensure they are fully considered by government, parliament and other policy makers. She is central to implementing INQUEST's influencing strategy to make positive changes to legislation and policy affecting inquests, investigation and the prevention of contentious deaths.
Administration Assistant (part time)
The post of Administration Assistant involves providing general office support to the rest of the team.
‘I very much admire the Co-Directors of INQUEST who have committed their professional lives to speaking up for bereaved families and helping them seeking justice for their loved ones.They work every day with the victims of tragic circumstances and I think we can all learn from their strength, tenacity and professionalism.’
– Katy Swaine, former Legal Director for Children’s Rights Alliance for England