Ofcom's power to gather information relating to the death of a child

Published: 27 March 2024

Under section 101 of the Online Safety Act, Ofcom has the power to support a coroner’s or procurator fiscal’s investigation into the death of a child. These new information gathering powers commence on 1 April 2024.

The death of a child has a devastating impact upon families and communities across the UK. We understand the important role that investigations undertaken by coroners and procurators fiscal play in seeking to establish the underlying causes of individual deaths. Working within the legal framework set by the Online Safety Act, we want to ensure that there are appropriate processes in place to support a coroner’s investigation or inquest into the death of a child.

From 1 April 2024, if Ofcom has received a formal request for information from a coroner or a procurator fiscal to support an investigation or inquest into the death of a child, then Ofcom may decide to issue a section 101 request to gather information from relevant services for the purpose of responding to the coroner.

In England and Wales, a coroner’s formal request for information will be sent via a Schedule 5 notice from the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Coroners from Northern Ireland will send a formal request for information via their 17A powers under the Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959. In Scotland, a procurator fiscal’s power to issue Ofcom an information request comes from their common law power to investigate deaths.

While this power is new, Ofcom has already supported and will continue to support other elements of the coronial process. This includes our legal duty to respond to a Prevention of Future Deaths report in connection with the death of a person.

Download our factsheet

If any coroners or procurators fiscal would like to know more about our section 101 implementation plans, please email us: coronerssupport@ofcom.org.uk

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