The average inquest now takes six months to take place in Hertfordshire

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The average time for an inquest to be completed in Hertfordshire is running at around 28 weeks, according to the latest data.

At the beginning of the year - between January and March - it took an average of just 23 weeks for an inquest to be completed, following its referral to the coroner.

But according to the county council the latest data - for April to June - shows that it has risen to 28 weeks.

Earlier data published by the county council and reported to the resources and performance cabinet panel on Friday (September 23), suggested the time taken had increased to 38 weeks.

And at the meeting of the cabinet panel Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Zukowskyj questioned the impact this would have on the justice system.

But he was assured that the figure published in the report was artificially high, as a result a reporting discrepancy.

And following the meeting the county council confirmed that the average number of weeks for those inquests completed between April and June (that’s Q1 of 2019/20) was 28 weeks.

In April, according to the county council, the average was 35 weeks, in May 23 weeks and in June 25 weeks.

A spokesperson for the county council said: “As verbally shared at the Panel, the published Q1 data was incorrect due to discrepancy between the reporting criteria of the Ministry of Justice and the coronial case management system.

“The actual average number of weeks for Q1 should be 27.6 (28) weeks which is significantly lower than published.

“HM Coroner and the coroner service management team continue to monitor case progress, with a view to identify opportunities to expedite each case to court. The first two months of Q2 are showing an average time to court of 25 weeks.

“However, it should be noted that certain cases such as deaths which occur abroad, criminal cases and those requiring external investigative bodies often have an extended timeline which is outside the control of the coroner. “