Sheffield Coroner's Court and mortuary set for £2 million revamp

The Medico-Legal Centre on Watery Street, Sheffield.
The Medico-Legal Centre on Watery Street, Sheffield.
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The building that houses Sheffield Coroner's Court and the city's public mortuary is undergoing a £2.11 million refit.

The Medico-Legal Centre, on Watery Street in Upperthorpe, is being modernised with new facilities including a second courtroom for inquests, upgraded body fridges and an overhauled post-mortem suite.

Contractors have started work at the site and are set to stay until the end of this year. The building is owned by Sheffield Council, which is funding the refurbishment.

Christopher Dorries, the South Yorkshire coroner who is based at the centre, said the 'substantial' project was necessary to make structural repairs and create a suitable environment for visitors, in particular bereaved families.

The building's leaky roof will be fixed, the fire alarm system is being updated and the centre's layout is to be rearranged, 'bringing previously unused space back into use', he said.

"The mortuary is being improved to both update old equipment and to create additional, needed capacity. Our viewing areas are being modernised to improve the suite of rooms for those who wish to visit their loved ones while in our care.

"A second courtroom is being created to ensure that we can continue to complete inquests in a timely manner. More space has been created for families and others attending inquests to sit privately and meet with their solicitors if required."

Better sound systems are being installed, and new technology will allow expert witnesses to give evidence via a high-quality video link, in an effort to cut costs.

"All in all, this refurbishment will greatly improve the facilities within the centre for the bereaved when they attend, either to view their loved ones or to attend inquests," said Mr Dorries.

The purpose-built complex opened in 1977, replacing the old coroner's court on Nursery Street. In 2013 the UK's first digital autopsy service opened there - a £3 million resource offering post-mortem examinations using a scanner instead of the traditional scalpel.