Signalling a first for the UK, the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 outlined the requirement for an Inspector of Funeral Directors, new regulations and possible licensing. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016?
Passed by the Scottish Parliament in March, the act is intended to make much-needed improvements to the burial and cremation process in Scotland. It represents, in part, a response to work carried out between 2005-7 by the independent Burial and Cremation Review Group, which examined the law relating to burial and cremation, as well as death certification – a result of which saw new legislation introduced in 2011 and implemented in 2015.
The focus on burial and cremation was brought forward following concerns about infant cremation practices in Scotland, set out in the Mortonhall Investigation Report by Dame Elish Angiolini, and supported and extended in the subsequent Report of the Infant Cremation Commission, a commission chaired by Lord Iain Bonomy. In fact, many of the provisions in the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act are in direct response to recommendations made by Lord Bonomy.
The appointment of three inspectors
As a result of the act’s three main areas on focus – funeral directors, burials and cremations – three inspectors have been or are in the process of being appointed. In April 2017, Natalie McKail was appointed by the Scottish government to undertake a review of the funeral profession in Scotland, and her two-year term commenced in July. She will then be expected to make recommendations to ministers regarding the need for regulation and whether to introduce a licensing regime.
Speaking to the press at the time, McKail commented: “It is my intention to listen carefully to the widest range of views, and to assess the current provision of funerals in Scotland over the next 18 months, before providing recommendations to the minister on a regulatory framework for the future.”
As a response to a recommendation made by the Infant Cremation Commission, Robert Swanson was appointed as Inspector of Crematoria in April 2015 – he has completed his initial formal inspections of Scotland’s crematoriums, and has submitted his first report to Scottish Ministers. An Inspector of Burial is still to be recruited.
What happens next?
By the end of 2017, the following sections of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 will have been considered by Scottish Ministers and will be in force (subject to parliamentary timescales):
Part 2: Cremation sections 45-64
Cremation and ashes definitions; handling of ashes; cremation register; opening and closing of crematoriums, offences, fees for cremation and cremation authority code of practice. A copy of the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2017 can be accessed here.
Part 3: Arrangements section 65-86
Arrangements on death of an adult or a child; application to sheriff; pregnancy loss after 24 weeks; pregnancy loss on or before 24 weeks; pregnancy loss register; offences and local authority functions.
Part 4: Inspection sections 90-92
Inspections – regulations; powers of entry and inspection and offences.
Next year, the attention moves to the burial application process, private burial and exhumation, lair restoration to use, and burial ground management regulations. While the regulation of funeral directors and the appointment of an Inspector of Burial will be the focus from 2019 onwards.