HM Inspector of Crematoria: annual report 2016-2018

Second annual report from the Inspector of Crematoria for Scotland.


With commencement of the Inspection (Scotland) Regulations, the role of Inspector of Crematoria will become Inspector of Cremation, bringing with it powers which currently do not exist.

To date, the Inspector has been able to carry out the role with the full co-operation and assistance of cremation authorities and there is no reason to suspect that this will change.

The wide and varied complaints and enquiries highlighted are considered to be due to greater public awareness of the funeral industry and restored confidence in the regulatory authorities.

The appointment of the Inspector of Funeral Directors has been welcomed by cremation authorities.

Over the past year there has been a notable increase in the number of direct (no service) cremations, and requests for funerals without the services of a funeral director. The reasons for this are varied, with greatly reduced costs being the main one.

A number of crematoriums have declined to accept applications where the services of a funeral director are not being used. The greatest concern relates to an assurance that the coffin is of an acceptable standard and that nothing is present which would have an adverse effect on emissions, or cause damage to the cremator. Further concern relates to the means of transport used to convey the coffin to the crematorium.

It has been noted the two main issues which are current relate to shared pregnancy loss and the lack of provision for dedicated grounds for the scattering or internment of ashes for those of non-Christian faiths and beliefs, or of no religion.

It is anticipated that these matters will generate much debate, with both private and local authority owned crematoriums.

The Inspector is pleased to report that despite an increase in deaths and cremations over the winter period, followed by a period of heavy snow causing temporary closures of a number of crematoriums, all operated below capacity, and in conjunction with funeral directors and applicants, they were able to re-schedule those cremations which had to be postponed within an acceptable timescale.

Of note, there were no complaints reported to the Inspector in respect of these arrangements.

A hidden benefit of dealing with these extra demands has been the successful implementation and review of local contingency plans.

In closing, the Inspector wishes to record his appreciation for the assistance and co-operation afforded to him by the cremation authorities and other stakeholders during the period of this report.

Respectfully submitted

Robert Swanson QPM
HM Inspector of Crematoria
12 May 2018


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