Government promises better coroner services for bereaved families

Simon Hughes
Simon Hughes

A GOVERNMENT minister says “major reforms” to the Hartlepool and Teesside coroner services will be an improvement for bereaved families.

Grieving people across Hartlepool and Teesside have been promised better coroner services by Justice Minister Simon Hughes.

Council chiefs agreed plans to merge both Hartlepool’s and Teesside’s Coroner service in August last year.

And today Government officials say the merger will help improve consistency for bereaved people across the region and “end what has been described as a post code lottery”.

The merger will also provide local authorities with the opportunity to make savings without the need to close courts or inquest venues.

This follows the announcement in December last year that the Ministry of Justice were giving the Courts Support Service (CCSS) £110,000 to expand across the country including in Hartlepool and Teesside.

The funding will help to provide vulnerable witnesses and the bereaved with emotional and practical support attending Coroner inquests.

Support is available, not only to the bereaved, but to other witnesses attending the courts.

Volunteers working for the CCSS spend time with the bereaved explaining the arrangements at the inquest, answering questions leading up to the event, helping provide assurance at a time of need.

The funding will provide the employment of an additional trainer whose sole role would be to provide the much-needed training for volunteers in the extra courts. This will provide properly and carefully trained volunteers, who can be brought in to the process.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes said: “We want bereaved people to be at the heart of the coroner system, which is why we have introduced major reforms to make sure that inquests are conducted quickly and consistently around the country.

“The proposed amalgamation of the Teesside and Hartlepool coroner areas will improve consistency improving services for the bereaved and cutting costs for local authorities. No courts or inquestvenues will close as a result of the merger.

“We are also making sure the needs of bereaved families are put first and foremost and have funded the expansion of the excellent Coroners’ Courts Support Service to the North East.