Coroner's Service

Details of where to go, who to contact, what action needs to be taken for inquests and how to report treasure finds.

1 When a coroner investigates

The coroner investigates when:

  • deaths are violent or unnatural
  • the cause of death is unknown
  • deaths occur in police custody or prison. 

More information on what happens when a death is reported to a coroner, post-mortems and inquests is available on GOV.UK.

2 Court facilities and support

The Coroner's Court is a red brick building on the corner of Woodfield and Kilnmead Roads, adjacent to the Magistrate's Court.

COVID-19 update

In order to protect court users and staff, West Sussex County Council has put in place several measures to keep everyone safe. There is a now a facility for families (and some witnesses) to attend inquests remotely.

The Coroner and staff will however still conduct all hearings from the court at Crawley. The venue will remain open to members of the public and the press. However, attendees will be required to adhere to new safety measures:

  • Face coverings are mandatory (subject to some exemptions) in public areas of the court. They may be removed once in the courtroom.
  • Attendees will be required to provide their contact details for the NHS Track and Trace.
  • Every attendee will be required to sanitise their hands before entering the courtroom.
  • There will be a limit to the number of people who can be in the court building at any one time.
  • Times of hearing will be variable to allow for the sanitising of the courtroom after each case.
  • Attendees will be asked to wait outside the court building until 15 minutes before the hearing is due to start. The court usher will direct you on your arrival.
  • Attendees must bring their own refreshments, including water and tissues, if required.

Facilities

  • The Coroner's Court is situated in Crawley and has two courtrooms on the second floor.
  • There is disabled access and toilet facilities.
  • We welcome guide dogs and other support dogs.
  • A hearing loop facility compatible with hearing aids with a ‘T’ (telecoil) setting is available in both courtrooms.
  • If you have a disability you may wish to contact our staff on 033 022 27100 in advance to discuss your specific needs.
  • The Coroner’s Court is a formal court and attendees should dress appropriately.

Court layout

  • The Coroner will sit at the front of the room.
  • The witness desk and Coroner’s Officer desk will be at the front of the room either side of the Coroner.
  • Legal representatives will sit at desks facing the Coroner.
  • If there is a jury they will normally be seated to one side of the room so that they have a clear view of the witness desk, the legal representatives and the Coroner.
  • Family members of the deceased will normally sit behind the legal representatives.

Opening hours

  • Doors are only open to the public when the court is in session. Please see the Covid-19 update above.

Car parking

The nearest car parks to the Coroner’s Court are:

  • NCP Kingsgate Car Park, Queensway, Crawley, RH10 1EN
  • Town Hall Crawley, The Boulevard, Crawley, RH10 1UZ

Train station

  • Station Way, Crawley, RH10 1JA - 12 minute walk

Support service

Emotional and practical support to families and witnesses attending inquests can be found on the Coroners' Courts Support Service website.

3 Contact the Coroner's Service

If you have a query around a specific investigation, speak to the Coroner's Officer handling the case.

If you have a general enquiry, contact the Coroner's Service using the details below.

Office hours are 8.00am-4.00pm, Monday-Friday.

West Sussex Coroner

The West Sussex Coroner is an independent judicial officer who works in partnership with West Sussex County Council.

The West Sussex Senior Coroner is Penelope Schofield.

4 Inquest hearings

You can view the inquest hearing dates in the document below. The different types of hearings are defined further down the page.

Before viewing, please note:

  • the list is updated every Tuesday evening and covers one month
  • any queries should be directed to the Coroner’s Officers.

Types of hearings

  • Opening - Where it is necessary for the coroner to hold an inquest, the coroner may initially formally open this inquest in public. At the opening, the coroner will set the dates for subsequent hearings.
  • Full inquest - A full fact-finding inquiry in court (with witnesses being called to give evidence) to establish who has died and how, when and where the death occurred.
  • Pre-inquest review/directions hearings - These hearings take place before the final inquest hearing. Those invited have the opportunity to raise procedural issues with the coroner.
  • Documentary - Inquests where evidence is not in dispute, so no witnesses will be called. A summary of the evidence is read to the court and the coroner will give their findings.
  • Documentary plus - Inquests where the coroner or family are seeking further evidence or clarification from a witness.
  • Jury inquest - These are usually held if a death occurred in prison or custody, or as result of an accident at work. The coroner is obliged to sit with a jury to hear cases.
  • For mention - Where there is an update provided to the coroner of the progress of the case, enabling further directions to be made.

Emotional and practical support to families and witnesses attending inquests can be found on the Coroners' Courts Support Service website.

5 Reporting treasure

All finds of treasure must be reported to the coroner within 14 days of it being found or having been identified as treasure.

More information on what is defined as treasure and how it is dealt with can be found on GOV.UK.

6 Further information

There is further information on coroner services and coroner investigations on the GOV.UK website.

Last updated:
29 September 2020
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  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.