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Post Mortems

Freedom of Information - Post Mortems

Thank you for your e-mail of 3 February 2014 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

“I am looking into the number of post-mortems that occur in Scotland, and was wondering if you had any statistics related to the number of deaths reported to the Procurator Fiscal and the number of post-mortems that took place. I had a look on your website but i could not find any of these statistics.”


We have now completed our search for the information you request.

A post mortem examination is instructed by the Procurator Fiscal to ascertain the cause of death not only in all cases which may potentially have resulted from criminal actings but also in any other death reported to the Fiscal where no medical practitioner is able to certify the cause of death or, more rarely, if the Procurator Fiscal is not prepared to accept a certificate which is offered. It is a matter for the Procurator Fiscal to decide whether there should be a post mortem examination, the nature and extent of that examination and the individual to conduct it.

In some cases it may be appropriate to indicate to the pathologist that he or she may “view and grant”.  This is a non-invasive post mortem examination which involves an experienced pathologist externally examining the body of the deceased whilst considering the deceased’s history and the events surrounding the death.

The figures contained in the table below refer to death reports received and post mortems and View & Grant examinations instructed during financial year 2012/13.

You did not specify a time period in your request so I have provided figures for the most recent financial year, 2012/13. The “Death Reports Received” figures are already accessible on our web-site within Case Processing Last 5 years 2009-2014

Financial Year

Death Reports Received

Post mortems instructed

View & Grant Examination






You may also wish to refer to information on the role of the Procurator Fiscal in relation to dealing with sudden and suspicious deaths which is also accessible on our web-site using the link below.