National Committee on Infant Cremation: 2017 annual report

Third annual report of the National Committee on Infant Cremation.

1. Background

The establishment of a standing National Committee on Infant Cremation was a key recommendation of the Rt Hon. Lord Bonomy's Report of the Infant Cremation Commission [1] (‘Bonomy Report’; ‘Bonomy Recommendations’), which was published on June 17, 2014.

On the same day, the then Minister for Public Health, Mr Michael Matheson, made a formal statement to Parliament in which he accepted all 64 recommendations, including - as a priority - the formation of the National Committee.

The National Committee’s main aims and objectives are set out in Recommendations 57 to 62 of the Bonomy Report, and can be summarised as:

  • Develop, promote and annually review a Code of Practice on baby and infant cremations which reflects contemporary standards and best practice.
  • Ensure all recommendations from the Infant Cremation Commission are implemented, through a combination of strategic oversight, monitoring and also through direct tasks which will be undertaken by expert Working Groups set up by the National Committee.
  • Promote improvements in practice, technology, policy and legislation.
  • Report annually to Ministers on standards and practice in baby and infant cremations.

In June 2016, Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini published the Infant Cremation Investigation Report which set out 15 general conclusions and recommendations (of which, 2 were general conclusions and 13 were recommendations). The recommendation and conclusions were accepted by Scottish Ministers and the National Committee now provides oversight of the implementation of these recommendations.

The National Committee is chaired by Scottish Government, and has more than twenty members from multiple organisations and sectors including: clinical and neonatal experts; cremator manufacturers; crematoriums and funeral directors representative organisations; bereavement organisations; private and local authority cremation authorities and policy officials from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There have also been parent representatives on the Committee and its Sub-Groups to help ensure that those who have been most affected by issues in the past are central to improving policy, practice and the law now and in the future.

The Committee recognises the emotional distress and turmoil experienced by many parents and families as a result of some previous infant cremation practices. Because of this, it welcomes the many improvements that have already been made by the organisations involved; it acknowledges that more work needs to be done; and it remains committed to its role in ensuring best practice is the norm in Scotland.


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