Release date: 23 March 2017
West Sussex’s first dedicated Coroner’s Court has opened.
The new court will provide a better environment for people who attend an inquest.
The new facility at Centenary House, Crawley, will now provide a single, newly refurbished location for all inquests in the county.
Inquests commenced at the new court on 14 March and by mid-April all new cases will be listed at the court.
There are two court rooms and also a family room for relatives to have a quiet space.
The court has been opened in response to an increasing workload of long and complex inquests and is suitable for the largest of inquests.
The new court will eliminate the need to hire external premises giving greater flexibility of court time and offers more appropriate facilities for bereaved families.
West Sussex's coroner's office presides over around 370 inquests per year out of the estimated 3,300 deaths reported to the Coroner from across the county.
The coroner is required to have reported to her all violent and unnatural deaths, those deaths where the cause is unknown and those who die in custody or otherwise in state detention with the West Sussex area.
The coroner also investigates the deaths of West Sussex residents that occur abroad. Together with her team she investigates these deaths, authorises post mortems in certain cases, and liaises with bereaved families, police, doctors and funeral directors.
Working independently of the local authority, police and the Crown Prosecution Service, the coroner has a statutory function to determining how a person came by their death. The nature of some deaths will require an inquest to be held.