Report of the National Committee on Infant Cremation 2014-15

A formal report from the National Committee on its first year of progress against the 64 recommendations of the Infant Cremation Commission.

6. Inspector Of Crematoria

Following a recruitment exercise which attracted a high number and calibre of applicants, Robert Swanson QPM was appointed to the role of Inspector of Crematoria for Scotland in March 2015. Mr Swanson's appointment led to significant media interest and he has given a number of interviews to television, radio and newspapers on the significance of this new role.

The statutory appointment of such an Inspector was contained within Bonomy Recommendation 63. The existing legislation allowing for the appointment dates back to the Cremation Act 1902 and its subsequent Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 1935. As far as we are aware, Mr Swanson is the first such Inspector of Crematoria anywhere in the UK. In due course, the legislation governing the Inspector role will change as the current legislation is repealed to allow the new Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill to come into force.

The current Inspector role covers functions explicitly covered by the 1935 Regulations as well as some broader, non-statutory functions. Statutory elements of the role may further expand over time under the new legislation.

In brief, the Inspector's current role is to:

  • ensure crematoria are operating in line with the principles set down by Lord Bonomy, and in line with the new Code of Practice.
  • report any criminal or potentially criminal activity to Police Scotland.
  • visit every crematorium in Scotland at least once every year.
  • deal with queries or complaints from the public.
  • provide an annual report to Ministers on activities, but can also report to Ministers on specific issues or concerns if needed.

Since his appointment, the Inspector has undertaken introductory visits to all 28 crematoria in Scotland, and has met with most major stakeholders through attendance at meetings either as an invited guest or as an active member of various groups and committees (including membership of this National Committee on Infant Cremation). He will soon commence formal inspections of all 28 crematoria, a process which is expected to be complete by end March 2016.

As part of his duties, Mr Swanson has also already dealt with a number of enquiries and complaints from members of the public and other external agencies.

Following the introduction of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill into the Scottish Parliament on 9th October 2015, Mr Swanson has given evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, and has been invited to attend to provide further evidence in December 2015.


Email: SG Health Protection Team

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