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Coroners: Oxfordshire

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the (a) average and (b) longest time it took for a coroner to hold a treasure inquest once requested for finds from Oxfordshire in 2007; and if he will make a statement. (257254)

The Ministry of Justice collects statistics on the number of finds under the Treasure Act 1996 reported to coroners in England and Wales during each calendar year, the number of treasure inquests concluded during the year and, of these, the number of verdicts of treasure returned. Information is not collected on the time taken to conduct treasure inquests.

Informal figures are, however, collated by the British Museum, which records the time between the inquest being requested by the British Museum and a verdict being returned. These show that in 2007, the British Museum requested that the Oxfordshire coroner hold seven treasure inquests. The longest time between an inquest being requested and a verdict being returned was 525 days, while the other six ranged in duration from 77 days to 423 days. A statistical average based on such a small number of cases would be very volatile and heavily dependent on the particular circumstances of each case.