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.

Section 1 - Types of inspections

51. Section 90 of the 2016 Act provide powers for Scottish Ministers to make regulations about the circumstances in which inspections are to be carried out. The 2017 inspection consultation asked whether Inspectors should have powers to carry out both routine and ad-hoc inspections.

52. A routine inspection would be one which is regularly scheduled and for which an authority or business is given advance notice. The frequency of routine inspections is asked about in the next section of this consultation.

53. Ad-hoc inspections would be those which fall outwith the regular routine inspection schedule. They may be useful, for example, to follow up on a complaint, or gather more information after an issue has been raised with Inspectors (e.g. by a whistle-blower, other authority such as Police Scotland, interested member of the public, etc.). It may also be useful to observe progress on any compliance improvements by a relevant body. As such, ad-hoc inspections may be more targeted than routine inspections.

54. With regards to ad-hoc inspections, the 2017 consultation also asked whether inspectors should have powers to undertake these as either announced ad-hoc inspections or unannounced ad-hoc inspections, depending on the individual circumstances. For example, inspectors may wish to do an announced ad-hoc inspection in circumstances where they are investigating a complaint and want to ensure that staff and information are prepared before their arrival. However, inspectors may wish to do an unannounced ad-hoc inspection if they do not want to give the business warning of their arrival. For example, where they want to observe whether recommended improvements have been incorporated into day-to-day practice.

Previous consultation responses

55. Responses to the 2017 consultation recognised the need for both routine and ad-hoc inspections. Additionally, the majority of responses were supportive of having ad-hoc inspections which could be either announced or unannounced.

56. However, respondents provided additional information to consider about unannounced inspections. For example, that inspectors would need to be mindful of pressures on authorities or businesses who may be in the process of arranging or providing a funeral when Inspectors arrive unannounced and that their visit should not impact upon any bereaved people present.

57. The Inspection Regulations Working Group also discussed this issue in December 2018, and agreed that Inspectors should be empowered to carry out both announced and unannounced inspections of relevant bodies. Members noted that trade associations already conduct announced and unannounced inspections, and agreed that unannounced inspections do not need to be restricted to specific circumstances. Again, the importance of not negatively impacting bereaved people during unannounced inspections was emphasised.

Scottish Government position

58. Taking these views into account, the Scottish Government’s intention remains that, in addition to routine inspections, both announced ad-hoc and unannounced ad-hoc inspections are to be provided for in the proposed inspection regulations.

59. It is further intended that guidance and training on unannounced ad-hoc inspections will be provided to inspectors which will cover the need to be respectful of any bereaved persons present, as well as any operational or business needs of the authority or funeral director business.

60. In addition the Scottish Government intends to implement a complaints procedure which will be available to relevant bodies. This procedure can be utilised if they are concerned about how an inspection has been conducted, or about being inspected too frequently.

Question 1 - Please provide any comments on the Scottish Government’s proposals related to types of inspections by inspectors.



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