Statutory inspection of burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors

A Scottish Government consultation on the proposed statutory inspection of burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors in Scotland.


1. This appointment occurred in January 2015, and thus preceded the 2016 Act. Regulation 2 of the 1935 Regulations (made under the 1902 Act) required every crematoria to be “open to inspection at any reasonable time by any person appointed for that purpose by the Secretary of State or by the Department”. The 1902 Act was repealed by the 2016 Act.

2. See section 1 of the 2016 Act for meaning of ‘burial ground’. Section 2 of the 2016 Act states a ‘burial authority’ refers to the person having responsibility for the management of the burial ground.

3. Information collated for the Scottish Government, with co-operation from local authority representatives, indicates that there are at least 2,240 burial grounds which are the responsibility of local authorities. The exact number of non-local authority burial authorities is still to be established.

4. The Scottish Government intends to establish a funeral director licensing scheme using powers provided in section 95 of the 2016 Act (see licensing consultation), in which funeral director businesses must obtain a licence in order to operate. It is intended that the licensing authority may grant licences subject to conditions, and that inspectors will be empowered to inspect businesses’ compliance with these conditions.

5. We note this power is provided for in section 91 of the 2016 Act, thus will not be covered by inspection regulations made under section 90 of the 2016 Act. Instead, when section 91 of the 2016 Act is commenced, these powers will come into force. Similarly, section 92 of the 2016 Act sets out offences in respect to section 91, thus offences provisions will not be covered by the proposed inspection regulations.

6. Examples might in particular include issues which pose continuous risks of damage to the deceased

7. It is intended that a funeral director licence which has been revoked cannot be reinstated. Please see licensing consultation for more details.

8. For example, please see Fish Health Inspectorate Surveillance and Animal Welfare(Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021

9. It is intended that all cremation authorities (and each of the individual crematoriums that they manage) will be inspected, given their small number. However, in contrast, some burial authorities in Scotland are responsible for managing hundreds of burial grounds. Therefore due to the practicalities, resource implications and the low-risk nature of many burial grounds, it is proposed that each burial authority, rather than burial ground, will be subject to inspection.

10. See Scottish Government website for Inspectors’ annual reports

11. Provided for in section 21 of the 2016 Act

12. Provided for in section 64 of the 2016 Act



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