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Big fall in number of outstanding inquests.

Byline: Naomi Corrigan Reporter naomi.corrigan@trinitymirror.com

THE number of outstanding inquests has continued to drop dramatically over the past year.

In April 2014, there were 369 outstanding inquests into deaths of people on Teesside. A year on and there are now only 57 yet to be held.

Only three of these inquests are over a year old compared to 160 at the same time the previous year. Twelve are between six months and a year old, six are between three months and six months old.

The improvements have been achieved through a modernisation programme which featured processes for investigation and the handling of witnesses. In January, Teesside's Coroner's Service was honoured with a Mayor's Award for its outstanding work in clearing the area's inquest backlog.

Assistant Teesside coroner and senior coroner for Hartlepool, Malcolm Donnelly said: "The coroner's service is now unified, effi-cient and very proud of this acheivement. It is no less than the people of Teesside have deserved for many years."

Former coroner Michael Shef-field had been roundly criticised - and resisted calls to quit - over the amount of time it took for inquests to be heard. He stepped down from the role last year, aged 83.

An annual report is now being produced by the Coroner's Office, aiming to give the public a clear picture of how the service is working and its priorities for 2015. Acting Teesside Coroner Clare Bailey said: "It is important that the public have confidence in the service and that they have a clear understanding of how and why it works in the way that it does.

"We hope that by producing this document the Teesside public are able to better understand the work of the Coroner's Office and that the knowledge of it may help when dealing with bereavement."

The report is available to view |at www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/static/ebooks/TCS/index

CAPTION(S):

Clare Bailey and Malcolm Donnelly with the Mayor's Award

Mayor Ray Mallon, centre right, is pictured with acting senior coroner Clare Bailey, centre, and assistant coroner Malcolm Donnelly, centre left, and |other members of staff at the award ceremony DOUG MOODY PHOTOGRAPHY

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:May 1, 2015
Words:358
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