INQUESTS in Essex have a new home after a specialist coroner's court was opened in Chelmsford.

The venue inside County Hall, on Victoria Road South, features private meeting rooms for families, jurors and lawyers to use alongside the main court.

Office space has also been created within the new facility for senior coroner Caroline Beasley–Murray and her staff.

Previously hearings were held across a number of buildings around Essex with the aim of the new court being to reduce the costs of hiring venues.

It is also hoped the site will make the process easier for those involved in hearings.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “We are committed to ensuring we provide the best possible service to those who attend inquests.

“This new facility will help us provide further support to people at what is an extremely difficult time.”

The facility was added to County Hall as part of Essex County Council’s property transformation project.

The scheme is part of the authority’s plans to reduce costs by £235million over the next four years.

County councillor responsible for public health and wellbeing Ann Naylor said despite the cost-cutting side of the new court, the most important consideration was for families who attend inquests.

“Attending inquests following the death of a loved one can be a traumatic and stressful time,” the Conservative councillor said.

“This new centre will enable the service to provide an environment sympathetic to the needs of those who have lost family and friends.”

In 2013 the coroners service held more than 700 inquests in Essex.