1. ITV Report

'Huge backlog' of inquests on Teesside being cleared

Assistant Coroner Malcom Donnelly and Acting Senior Teesside Coroner Clare Bailey Credit: Middlesbrough Council

A "huge backlog of inquests" on Teesside is now being cleared after complaints from grieving families that proceedings were taking twice as long as the national average.

The transformation of the Teesside Coroner’s Service has seen the figure cut from more than 400 outstanding standard cases to just 12, with the remainder due to be cleared by the end of the year.

An area the size of Teesside would normally have between 60 and 80 open cases, and the current figure stands at 89.

More than 620inquests have been completed between January and October this year, of which approximately two thirds were backlog cases.

During that period Acting Senior Coroner Clare Bailey has concluded more than 370 inquests while Assistant Coroner Malcolm Donnelly, who focused on the backlog of enhanced inquests which take longer to conclude, has concluded more than 200 inquests.

Average completion time for new inquests is now among the best in the country at 14 weeks, while the overall figure including backlog cases has already fallen from a year to around 40 weeks.

I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve over the last few months.

It has all been about team work, and has only been possible thanks to the great staff we have here in the Coroner’s Office whose work has been of great benefit to the people of Teesside.

I’m also enormously grateful for the support we have had from our partners, in particular from Middlesbrough Council and Cleveland Police.

– Acting Senior Teesside Coroner Clare Bailey