The newly inaugurated Coroner’s Court in Wakefield, costing £2.7 million, has been specifically designed to offer full accessibility to disabled court users and the general public.
Situated at Units 3 and 4 of Mulberry House, Merchant Gate, these state-of-the-art facilities are part of The West Yorkshire Eastern Coroner’s Service, which oversees one of the most active Coroner’s jurisdictions in the country, encompassing Wakefield and Leeds.
Annually, this service handles an average of 3,800 reported deaths and concludes over 800 inquests. This year, it is anticipated that the service will finalize more than 1,000 inquests.
Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Resources and Property, said: “When designing the new building our priority was to improve the experience for Wakefield and Leeds residents, who come into contact with the service during what is often a very difficult time for them. This new building has been designed so that people with disabilities and others will have full access to all the facilities.”
Kevin McLoughlin, Senior Coroner, at The West Yorkshire Eastern Coroner’s Service, said: “The new Coroner’s Court is an investment for the people of Leeds and Wakefield.
“These new, and modern, facilities, combined with the use of technology will benefit people and help the court process to run more smoothly.”
Cllr Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resources, said: “The new Coroner’s Court provides a number of important services for the people of Leeds and Wakefield, helping residents through what can be incredibly challenging circumstances. We’re pleased to see this project completed and for the people of Leeds and Wakefield to know that they will have a modern, accessible facility when they need it.”
The financial responsibility for this service is divided between Leeds and Wakefield based on population, with Leeds covering 70% of the costs and Wakefield covering the remaining 30%.
Given its location in Wakefield, Wakefield Council leads in overseeing the execution of this function.
The previous facility used by the coroner, located at 71 Northgate, is a Grade 2 listed building, dating back to the late 18th or early 19th century. Inquests had been conducted there since 1984. The building housed two courts, and the first and second floors were inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. Additionally, the facilities lacked modern amenities required for an up-to-date coroner’s court, including limited audio and visual capabilities.