INQUESTS held on the Isle of Wight last year took longer to complete than almost anywhere else in England and Wales.
According to 2012 figures published by the Ministry of Justice, it took the Isle of Wight Coroner’s Court an average of 38 weeks to complete an inquest — making the Island the ninth worst county, unitary authority or district in terms of delays.
Of the 96 inquests held on the Island last year, 33 took between six and 12 months to complete and 12 took longer than one year.
The average length of time taken in England and Wales was 26 weeks.
The worst delays were in Southend-on-Sea, where the average time taken to complete an inquest was 53 weeks.
Tough new guidelines were introduced last month following growing concerns about lengthy delays, instructing coroners to complete inquests within six months of being notified of a death.
Judge Peter Thornton, the chief coroner of England and Wales, said: "The whole purpose is to put bereaved families at the centre of the process.
"They must be a focus for a more efficient, effective and modern coroner’s service.
"Inquests should usually be within six months. If they are over 12 months they must be reported to me and I will investigate."
Coroners are not employed by local authorities, but the Isle of Wight Council does fund the coroner’s service and employs its office staff.
The council’s corporate governance and monitoring officer Davina Fiore said: "We are aware of the situation and are working with the coroner to improve it."