The city’s coroner’s office is to move to a new home near Derriford Hospital as part of a programme to improve the service and make it easier for grieving families.
The Coroner’s Service will be leaving the Crescent and moving to Building One at Derriford to new premises which will enable different parts of the service to come under one roof.
The Council has given the go-ahead to procure a refurbishment of the building which will include a Coroner’s Court, a retiring room for jurors, meeting and interview rooms, death registration and medical examiner offices, administration and a police office.
The move will help improve working practices, provide closer links with hospital and medical staff, create more private space for grieving families as well as reduce the need for hotels and facilities to be booked for large inquests.
Because the hospital is well served by public transport, the new offices will also be accessible by bus.
Cabinet member for Finance, Mark Lowry said: “People who use this service are often in the middle of a difficult and traumatic part of their life. We need to make sure this service runs as smoothly as possible and that the very strong links between NHS professionals, the police and the coroner are as close as they can be – for the sake of the people who use the service.”
The relocation is part of the Council’s Transformation Programme which looks at how the Council can be more efficient with its assets and services as well as better serve the public and anticipate future needs.
As part of the project, the Council has been in close discussions with colleagues in the hospital as well as the police, funeral directors as well as neighbouring authorities.
The project also takes into account recent jurisdiction changes made by the Ministry of Justice which has made Plymouth the lead authority in a new administration area covering Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon.
Under the new arrangements all Torbay and South Devon’s inquests will be set by Plymouth, considerably increasing the workload of the Coroner’s administrative team. Hearings will still take place in Torbay where there are deaths in the East of the jurisdiction.
Coroner Ian Arrow said: “I am very pleased this new facility is to be provided for the Coroner Service.”
He added that the Chief Coroner had indicated the number of jurisdictions should be reduced to proivde a sustainable service and moving different elements of death investigation and registration to one location provided a better service to the public.
The new offices will be accessible for people with disabilities will provide privacy and space for grieving families as well as more space to carry out larger inquests. It is also hoped to reduce the frustrations some families experience being made to visit a number of different offices.
The total project is presently valued at £308,000 which includes design fees, planning, building fixtures and fittings.