Hampshire welcomes first new senior coroner in over 25 years

Hampshire County Council welcomes its first new Senior Coroner in over 25 years

Oct 30 2019

The news comes as Hampshire’s four coroner jurisdictions are under consultation to be merged into one new service, to provide a much more consistent and high performing service across the entire county.

Chris Wilkinson will take up his position as Hampshire’s Senior Coroner on 4 November, following his career as Assistant Coroner in East Sussex and West Sussex respectively, as well as being a partner in a private law firm.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans, said: “This is a very significant and exciting appointment as it represents the potential for a much more joined up approach to Hampshire’s coroner service. Chris has a wealth of experience and expertise that he brings to this role, and we look forward to seeing the coroner’s service develop under his trusted leadership.”

Chris Wilkinson said: “I am absolutely delighted and immensely proud to be taking on the role of Hampshire’s Senior Coroner. Hampshire County Council delivers excellence in its services to the residents of Hampshire and consistently seeks to improve how it efficiently responds to people’s varying needs throughout the county. I am committed to a similar vision of excellence. By seeking to keep families of the bereaved at the heart of the coronial service, I aim to ensure that those affected by death and loss are recognised fully and appropriately in their grief and that the process of the investigation of the death can continue to be delivered in a caring and empathetic manner at all levels. I am keen to build on and develop an efficient, accessible, just and high-quality service to carry Hampshire’s coroner service into a new era.”

Following the retirement of Hampshire’s four former Senior Coroners, the existing four coroner jurisdictions of Central Hampshire, North East Hampshire, Portsmouth and the South East, and Southampton and the New Forest are under consultation to be merged under one Senior Coroner.

The Chief Coroner of England and Wales, His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC, said: “Coroner area mergers are important in promoting consistency and best practice whilst ensuring that justice is delivered to local people. This being a four in to one area merger makes it particularly significant. I look forward to working with Chris, Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils and other stakeholders. I wish Chris every success in his new post."

The County Council worked closely with Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils throughout the appointment campaign and consequently sought the consent of both the Chief Coroner and Lord Chancellor for the appointment of a new Senior Coroner. 

The Senior Coroner is judicially independent but works in conjunction with the County Council.