A new state-of-the-art autopsy facility will open in Bradford early next year, giving families a choice of how their loved ones’ deaths are investigated.

New 3D digital scanning equipment to be installed in an extension at the Burnham Avenue public mortuary, off Rooley Lane, will eventually mean up to 70 per cent of post mortems carried out in the city could be non-invasive and do away with the use of a scalpel.

The changes, which mean Bradford will be the second city in the country after Sheffield to use the modern technology, were explained at City Hall yesterday in front of multi-faith leaders, councillors and representatives from the coroner’s service.

The ground-breaking equipment will be brought and paid for by a Malaysian-based life science enterprise called iGene, making an investment of around £1.5 million – and will cost Bradford Council nothing.

Work to bring the service to the city began 18 months ago and has been welcomed in particular by members of the Muslim and Jewish faiths, whose religions call for quick burials.

Bradford Council deputy leader Coun Imran Hussain said at yesterday's launch he was proud Bradford was leading the way so it can be rolled out in other places across the UK.

He said as far back as 2009 he and others in Bradford had been lobbying the Government to make changes to legislation to give coroners the powers of discretion over non-invasive post mortems – an amendment to the law that has now been made.

“This has been a multi-faith campaign and this facility will be available to everybody in Bradford. No one, regardless of creed or culture, wants a loved one to be subjected to intrusive post mortems and no one wants a painful delay to burying them.”

The scanning equipment will not completely replace the need for traditional post mortems, but Coun Hussain said: “The need for intrusive post mortems will drop significantly. As high as more than 70 per cent of cases could be suitable for digital autopsy. “We can all be proud of the pioneering role that Bradford is playing in making this a reality.”

Chairman of Bradford Synagogue, Rudi Leavor, said members of his community welcomed the advance, which he hoped would mean quicker burials.

Council for Mosques president Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal added: “It will reduce the stress and worry of relatives waiting for burials with loved ones being in hospital or the mortuary when we want them to be in their burial place at rest.

“It is our faith for that to happen as soon as possible. It has been a big issue.”