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CROOK Coroner's Court - Thursday September 4th, 11am.


crook coroners office

PRESS CALL – CROOK Coroner’s Court Thursday September 4th, 11am.

A PIONEERING new project to help bereaved families cope with inquests has proved a major success.

The Coroner’s Support Service for County Durham and Darlington is one of the first in the country to provide critical support for families during hearings into the last hours of their loved ones lives.

The pilot scheme, which has helped over 100 local people in the first month of its inception, was instigated after a gap in support was identified by Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg following the lack of support provided to a family of a prisoner who had died in custody. Mr Hogg has since funded Victim Support to launch a pilot scheme from the Coroner’s Court in Crook.

Experienced and highly trained volunteers from the charity Victim Support help bereaved and distressed family members and witnesses cope with the formality of proceedings and HM Senior Coroner for County Durham and Darlington,  Andrew Tweddle has praised the support of the volunteers.

Jayne Forman from Victim Support said the service was proving invaluable for families, but also providing much needed support for Coroner’s Officers. “An inquest into the death of a loved one is incredibly traumatic and family members are vulnerable and distressed, and so our service of greeting family members and witnesses, explaining the process to expect and after the inquest ensuring we can direct them onto any agencies for further help or support makes a real difference to those family members and witnesses” she said.

“Our volunteer and staff team have received specialist training and therefore can conduct pre inquest visits to the Coroner’s Court if requested and they can effectively engage with witnesses and ensure the families receive as much emotional and practical support as they need”.

On average the Durham Coroner will hold in the region of 400 inquests per year which can vary in length and the number of witnesses called to give evidence. The Coroner’s Court process can often be a lengthy process when a person has died in suspicious circumstances, or the death is unexplained.

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said he had heard personally from families, who had been grateful for the help from Victim Support volunteers.

He said: “Attending an inquest is very distressing for families and it’s vital they get every bit of help they need to get through the experience. I am pleased local families are now getting the support they need and the feedback has been very positive. I know the volunteers are dedicated to making a difference and supporting people in their hour of need.

“The workload of the Coroner and the Coroner’s Officers is vast and varied and I know the service is helping take some of the pressures off them,”

Ron will be visiting the Coroner’s Court next Thursday to hear first-hand from the volunteers about their experiences during the project.


Any queries, please contact Kath MacColl at the PCC’s office on 07808 783868

 Follow PCC Ron Hogg on Twitter: @RonaldHogg1, or for organisation updates: @DurhamPCC.

Posted on Friday 29th August 2014
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