Report of the Infant Cremation Commission

Report examining current practice regarding the cremation of infants and making recommendations for improvement for the future.

Annex P - Residual Heat or 'Overnight' Cremation in Scotland

Residual Heat or 'Overnight' Cremation in Scotland - May 2014

Cremation Authorities - Confirmation on the practice of 'overnight' cremation (or cremation using residual heat at set point in the day)

Q. In regard to figures relating to the numbers of cremations you carried out for Non-Viable Babies, Stillborn Babies and Infants in 2010, 2011 and 2012, provided in June 2013, would these have included any cremations which were conducted overnight on the strength of residual heat in the cremator and with the cremator essentially shut down?

Cremation Authority



Aberdeen City Council


Aberdeen Crematorium has not and does not cremate overnight using residual heat. As such, the figures supplied previously do not include cremations conducted overnight.

Argyll and Bute Council

Yes - Conditional

Our cremation staff have confirmed that Argyll and Bute Council does not carry out overnight cremations of Non-Viable Foetuses, Stillborn Babies and Infants. Our practice is to keep Non-Viable Foetuses, Stillborn Babies and Infants to the last cremation of the day. In the event of using a tray the operator can close down the plant leaving the tray in the chamber to allow it to cool overnight making it safer to remove the tray. The cremation would be completed before the operator closed down the plant.

Co-operative Funeralcare

Yes - But stopped in 2012

The first point I'd like to address is the reference to 'overnight cremations' being taken to be the same as 'residual heat cremations', for clarity 'residual heat cremations' can take place at any point after the cremator is shut down for the day. That said, in answer to your question about whether or not the numbers supplied would include 'residual heat cremations' the answer is yes but would be in single figures. This is a practice we stopped at the end of 2012. In answer to the second part of your question regarding whether or not the practice should be recommended I would point you to the concerns highlighted in the Mortonhall Report on page 60 under the heading 'Potential Breaches of Permit Conditions' and also referred to on page 145, paragraph 3. From this evidence it would appear that SEPA would not be likely to approve of this practice.

Dignity Crematoria


None of the submissions from the Dignity crematoria were cremated on residual heat.

Falkirk Council


All our NVF, stillborn and infant cremations at Falkirk Crematorium are conducted overnight using the residual heat from the cremators after they have been shut down.

Fife Council


Yes this is a practice that we use for the cremation of Non-viable Foetuses.

Glasgow City Council

Yes - Conditional

The practice of using residual heat overnight for infant/baby/NVF cremations is not one that is used at Glasgow City Council crematoria and was not the practice used during the years described. The practice in Glasgow is to carry out these cremations at the end of the day when there is an appropriate level of residual heat to conduct the process with minimal use of the cremation burners and fans. Each cremation is recorded as required and completed prior to the end of the working day. Completion would include the removal of all remains prior to the end of the working day and there would be no remains left overnight.

The Highland Council


The figures we provided did not include any cremations conducted overnight on the strength of residual heat in the cremator and with the cremator essentially shut down. Our practice is that supervision of all cremations is provided till the cremation is complete and the control system shuts down the cremator. If this is the end of the day in overtime then the cremator operators will leave the remains in the cremator overnight and remove them in the morning. Whenever possible cremation of babies and infants does not take place at the end of the day and in any case is always supervised to completion. Such cremations are always carried out using a cremation tray.

Paisley Cemetery Co Ltd

Yes - Conditional

These cremations would have been done overnight with residual heat. I should explain that the cremator is still on when the baby coffin is charged. Our operator then takes manual control to bring the main burner on low fire mode with gentle top air, say 5% or so. After about 20 to 30 minutes the cremator is switched off and runs on cooling mode. We then leave the remains in residual heat and rake out in the morning. It's a good idea to bypass the cooling box and drop the remains straight through to the collecting box at the bottom. The cooling box if used would introduce to much air with the possible loss of ash. Also, the infant profile software if used, can bring on too much air and turbulence. Our operator prefers to use manual control, particularly for the very small coffins.

Parkgrove Crematorium

Yes - Conditional

The term you are using 'overnight' is not correct and could be misleading. The process of an infant cremation takes approximately one hour, so if the coffin goes in after the last adult cremation which could be in the morning or early afternoon. [Note: Confirmed that in these cases the electric cremator has a shutter plate which closes to prevent turbulence and the cremator is turned off however it can be set to begin to heat overnight ready for the morning. At Parkgrove the last service is at 3 pm so any infant cremation process would be fully complete by 5 pm. All of our infant cremation are carried out this way.

Perth and Kinross Council


The below described practise of cremating using residual cremator heat only is not a practise we carry out in Perth. Rather we use an infant programme for the cremation at the end of the day within a tray, which is then left in the cremator overnight to cool down before removal the next day.

Scottish Cremation Society Ltd


I can confirm that no cremations were conducted overnight on the strength of residual heat at Glasgow Crematorium, Maryhill.

South Ayrshire Council


I can confirm that yes, we do carry out infant cremations at the end of the day when the cremator has been shut down. We find this the safest way to be able to retain ashes, although we will be carrying out the next infant cremation with our Facultatieve Technologies FT111's Baby programme. Will let Norman D know how this went. I should also mention that I contact SEPA last week to explain that we are obviously acting outside of our permit in doing these cremations. I have not heard back from them to date.

South Lanarkshire Council


I can confirm that South Lanarkshire Council have at no time cremated any non-viable foetuses, stillborn babies or infants overnight on the strength of residual heat in the cremators. All cremations are monitored from start to finish. This practice would be outside our operating permit from SEPA and is not one we would recommend.

Edinburgh Crematorium Ltd


None of the cremations that we reported to you, were carried out overnight, using residual heat.

West Dunbartonshire Council


West Dunbartonshire Council do not conduct this practice and never have conducted this practice

Westerleigh Group


At both our Border's and West Lothian crematoria, we use a specific infant programme developed by the manufacturer.

Roucan Loch Company


Roucan Loch's figures would not have included any cremations which were conducted overnight on the strength of residual heat.


Email: Sarah Dillon

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