THE first permanent Coroner’s Court in Sunderland has been officially opened.
The new facility in the Civic Centre will provide the city with a permanent home for inquests and a regional training centre.
It will also provide families with support and advice as part of the “Tell Us Once” Bereavement Service.
This new service removes the administrative burden on families registering a death by electronically sharing all the details they provide with the relevant departments.
The council is one of only 12 “Pathfinder” local authorities chosen by the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions to help to introduce this new system.
Coun James Blackburn, portfolio holder for city services, said: “Around 400 deaths a year in Sunderland have to be referred to the coroner, and having this new Coroner’s Court will provide a permanent venue for all future inquests to be held in the city.
“When someone has died and there is to be an inquest, there are lots of things that need to be done at a time when people probably least feel like doing them. One of these is contacting government departments and local council services that need to be told.
“Sunderland City Council is providing a service which we hope will make things easier. This new service means that people can just ‘tell us once’ and these organisations will be contacted on their behalf.
“We want to provide a service which helps to make life easier for people at times when they are at their most vulnerable and most in need of help by removing the administrative burden from their shoulders.”
Ron Odunaiya, Sunderland City Council executive director of city services, said: “We were chosen by the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions to help transform the way in which essential registration services are delivered.
“We hope that what we are achieving in Sunderland with the successful development of ‘Tell Us Once’ will provide an example for others to follow.”