New home for City Coroner

The City’s Coroner has a new home near Derriford Hospital, bringing together a number of services to make it easier for grieving families.

Building One at Derriford Business Park opens on Monday 18 May following the refurbishment of the building that will now house a Coroner’s Court, a retiring room for jurors, meeting and interview rooms, 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.

The Coroner is responsible for investigating deaths where the cause is unknown, where there is reason to think the death may not be due to natural causes, or which need an inquiry for some other reason.

The investigation may be as simple as consulting with the doctor who last treated the person who has died, or it may lead to an inquest.

Councillor Jon Taylor, Cabinet Member for Transformation said: “We are trying to improve the service we offer to Plymouth residents and families who are in contact with the Coroner are going through an extremely difficult time, negotiating a legal system as well as deal with loss.

“By bringing together a number of services under one roof and by being closer to the hospital, we hope to make it easier for 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.

Staff were heavily involved in the design of the new look offices as they are the most knowledgeable about the needs of the service and the users. The court room has separate retirement rooms for the family and jurors. Technology has been installed so jurors can see and hear evidence more easily. Wifi will be installed to make communications for visiting professionals easier.

Six police coroners officers will also be moving in. They are currently based in a portable cabin at Derriford Hospital.

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. The majority of the inquests will be held in Plymouth.

Coroner Ian Arrow said: “The whole team is really pleased. We worked closely with the project team to make sure the office design takes into account the needs of the family and the organisations that use the service.

“It has all happened smoothly and on time, which is great.”

The Chief Coroner has called for the number of jurisdictions should be reduced to provide 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. As it is near the hospital it is well served by public transport.

The total project is presently valued at £308,000 which includes design fees, planning, building fixtures and fittings.