Extra coroner to be appointed in Wakefield to help cover rising number of inquests

An extra coroner is set to be appointed in Wakefield, to help bereaved families get quicker answers over the deaths of their loved ones.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:48 am
Wakefield Coroner's Court

The number of inquests being handled at Wakefield Coroner's Court has nearly doubled over the last four years, though that's been partly attributed to high numbers of deaths during the pandemic.

A report going before senior councillors at a Cabinet meeting next week says investment is needed to help improve the system.

Wakefield Council, with the support of Leeds City Council, is set to take over the running of the coroner service from West Yorkshire Police.

Cabinet member Michelle Collins said bereaved families needed answers "as quickly as possible".

Staff contracted to the police force will be transferred across to the local authority as part of that process.

Councillor Michelle Collins, Cabinet member for resources, said: "Bereaved families should get the answers they need as quickly as possible.

"By making changes like this, we can enhance the service they receive while increasing the number of cases that can be investigated."

Inquests are held to establish the cause of someone's death, but families often face waits of several months for cases to be heard.

Wakefield Coroner's Court covers both the Wakefield district and Leeds areas.

The council says the proposed changes will see cases investigated and concluded more quickly and reduce the number of inquests which have to be adjourned.

Councillor Collins added: "The West Yorkshire Eastern Coroner's Service is one of the busiest in the country.

"There’s no other service area which has six prisons, the biggest teaching hospital in Europe and regional specialist acute services at hospitals like Pinderfields.

"As a result, the complexity of the cases reported to the Coroner requires significant preparation before an inquest can be held."

Local Democracy Reporting Service