Concern for bereaved families after unannounced closure of Leeds Coroner’s Court

Leeds Coroner's Court

Leeds Coroner's Court

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Concerns have been raised about the impact on bereaved families after the unannounced closure of Leeds Coroner’s Court.

The court – in Leeds for several decades – shut at the end of 2015 without any public notification. All inquests will now be carried out in Wakefield.

Leeds City Council, which oversaw the Belgrave Street court, said the move would make services more efficient and cost-effective.

But John Kerslake, of Shadwell, who set up the charity Elliot’s Footprint to support other bereaved parents following the death of his two-year-old son in 2013, said it was “extremely disappointing” news.

“Part of the reason Elliot’s Footprint was set up as a charity was to ensure more resource went into improving the quality of service and contact that the coroner’s office has with bereaved families,” he said. “This news appears to be a backwards step in ensuring that families are supported as well as they can be after the biggest tragedy they will ever experience.”

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said the decision raised “serious questions”.

He said: “Having to go to a coroner’s court can be a very upsetting and emotional experience and requiring people to travel a long distance will not make it any easier at a very difficult time in their lives.

“This decision must be looked at again.”

A council spokesman said a review found the service could be “managed more efficiently and cost effectively from one site in Wakefield”.

He added: “This will increase the capacity of the service for the benefit of both the Leeds and Wakefield communities, which will be better served by one single facility at Wakefield.”