A ST HELENS MP has branded it "completely unacceptable" that coroner's inquests are no longer being held in the town.

The borough falls under the remit of Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens senior coroner Julie Goulding.

Coroners are independent judicial officers who investigate deaths reported to them.

They make necessary inquiries to find out the cause of a death, which can include ordering a post-mortem examination, obtaining witness statements and medical records, or holding an inquest.

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A coroner investigates deaths in order to establish who, where and when a person died and how, meaning by what means a person has died.

Before the Covid pandemic many inquests relating to deaths in the town were held at St Helens town hall, with some hearings held in Bootle or Southport.

St Helens Star: Inquests were regularly held at St Helens town hall Inquests were regularly held at St Helens town hall (Image: Stock)

However, in recent years hearings have no longer been held at the town hall, with inquests relating to the town being heard in Bootle. Relatives have the option to access the hearings remotely. 

However, the Star has received concerns from members of the public over the difficulties for some residents in attending inquests during what can be a distressing time. The distance of the journey and the inconvenience of being able to arrive in Bootle via public transport with no direct trains or buses have been cited.  

There have also been concerns about access to local justice being hindered, on top of the closure of St Helens Magistrates' Court's closure in 2016, which saw cases moved primarily to Liverpool.

The Star approached both MPs in relation to the matter and received responses expressing concern over the situation with calls for a re-think.

St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer called the situation unacceptableMarie Rimmer called the situation unacceptable (Image: Stock)

Marie Rimmer, St Helens South & Whiston MP, said: “It is completely unacceptable that loved ones are having to travel so far for a coroner's inquest.

"It is already a heartbreaking and distressing time for families, and having to get all the way to Bootle, which is not an easy place to get to from St Helens, is unacceptable.

"We have 60 per cent less bus services than decades ago. The option of doing it online is not good enough as many residents want to be there in person and often take others with them for support. I would urge for a complete rethink about this decision.

"The residents of St Helens deserve better.”

St Helens Star: Conor McGinn MPConor McGinn MP (Image: Stock)

Meanwhile, St Helens North MP Conor McGinn added: “I was very surprised to hear that no inquest hearings have been held in St Helens since prior to the pandemic and I have written to the Justice Secretary to seek clarity about the situation. People in St Helens deserve and require services that ensure access to justice and I hope that we will have an immediate explanation and resolution.”

The Star has contacted the Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens Coroner's Office but has not yet received a comment in relation to the matter.