A new Coroner’s Court complex that opened in Surrey this week will better serve the needs of bereaved families.
Surrey County Council has renovated the former North West Surrey Magistrates’ Court building in Woking to create a dedicated new base for Surrey Coroner Richard Travers and his staff.
The centre will bring the Coroner and his team of Coroner’s Officers together under one roof to improve the efficiency of the service.
Private family rooms and meeting facilities will help ensure the surroundings are sympathetic to the needs of those who have lost loved ones.
With recent changes in the law requiring more inquests to be heard by juries, the Coroner needed more space and better facilities to meet his statutory obligations. He will now be able to hold jury inquests in his own buildings instead of hiring alternative venues, generating savings for Surrey taxpayers.
Courtrooms will also be available for hire by neighbouring councils when not in use, bringing in additional income which could be reinvested in the service.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This new complex will help us provide a professional and reassuring environment for those who have lost family or friends at what is an extremely difficult time in their lives.
“Bringing the Coroner and police together under one roof means the service will be able to run even more efficiently. We will save thousands of pounds for Surrey taxpayers because we will no longer have to hire alternative venues and will also earn money by leasing courtrooms when we don’t need to use them. This extra income means we can plough money back into improving the service and further cut costs to taxpayers.”
A total of 17 staff who were previously based at Woking Police Station are now able to operate from a police office within the complex.
The new centre also comprises two courtrooms which are equipped for jury inquests and a third courtroom which will be used for non-jury inquests.
Cutting-edge video link technology will enable witnesses to give evidence remotely from any part of the UK or abroad.
A dedicated ‘remote witness room’ within the building will allow vulnerable witnesses to give evidence without having to be physically present in the courtroom.
Detective Superintendent Nick May, head of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “The new complex is a very significant improvement on the existing facilities. Most importantly this will be better for the families who come to inquests and better for witnesses who give evidence. It will undoubtedly improve the service offered to people at very difficult times in their lives.”
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