HM Inspector of Crematoria: annual report 2016-2018

Second annual report from the Inspector of Crematoria for Scotland.

Findings from Visits and Inspections

There has been 100% recovery of ashes from all cremations carried out during the period of this, and the previous annual report.

A number of crematoriums have undergone major refurbishment and the installation of new cremators. During periods of restricted use, arrangements were made for cremations or services to be conducted elsewhere. There were no reported issues concerning any of these.

The following is a brief resume on the current position regarding some of the matters highlighted in the previous annual report and which were subsequently discussed during visits:

Items left in coffins – there has been a noted reduction in issues (emissions / items recovered following cremation) reported, however, there have been a few instances where it has been suspected that heavy duty body bags used to wrap decomposed bodies may be a likely cause. As this can lead to the crematorium being penalised by SEPA (lower grading or written warning) the Inspector has agreed to explore the matter further in conjunction with the Inspector of Funeral Directors.

Form E1 from COPFS – as mentioned earlier this remains 'work in progress'. A meeting has been held with COPFS, and in addition the proposed new application forms takes cognisance of the various issues or uncertainties which currently exist.

Improved communication – The two cases referred to earlier in this report (change of instruction forms) highlight that there remains room for improvement. As will be seen from the list of meetings/seminars/liaison detailed, there has been a determined effort to include active communication on a wider scale at all levels.

Defibrillators – There has been a noted increase in the number of cremation authorities that have now acquired defibrillators, and there has been one reported incident where following a collapse it was deployed successfully.

Contracts – Whilst all crematoriums that carry out shared cremations from NHS have either a verbal arrangement or memorandum of understanding, not all have progressed to formalising the agreement into a contract. A number are awaiting legal opinion before completing. Further comment on shared pregnancy loss cremation is made below.

Identity Labels on ashes – in light of issues highlighted in the previous annual report concerning the mislabelling of ashes, working practices have been changed at a number of crematorium to minimise the risk of such an occurrence.


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