Dame Elish Angiolini Report into National Cremation Investigation

Aberdeen City Council fully acknowledges the contents of Dame Elish Angiolini's report and will take the recommendations on board.

A statement by Aberdeen City Council Chief Executive Angela Scott can be viewed.  

View the Statement Video

The report can be viewed here  Report of the National Cremation Investigation

Inspector of Crematoria Scotland report on Aberdeen Crematorium

Support

A dedicated phone line has been set up for anyone with concerns or inquiries arising from the publication of the report. The number is 01224 522485.

If you have a query or concern about a cremation which occurred in Aberdeen in the past, please call the number above.

Families affected can seek help and support from SANDS (Still Birth and Neo-natal Death charity). The helpline is 08707 606649 or email help@aberdeensands.com.

Background

A number of other investigations relating to infant cremations at Aberdeen Crematorium have been carried out over the last few years. The results of these informed the ACC Policy Statement Relating to the Cremation of Babies and Infants which was published in June 2015.

In June 2014, the Scottish Government published Lord Bonomy's Infant Cremation Commission Report which provided national recommendations for improvements.

Earlier in June 2014, Aberdeen City Council issued a statement in response to a serious allegation received regarding practices at Hazlehead Crematorium.

In light of this, the findings of the independent audit carried out in 2013 were reconsidered. The Hazlehead Crematorium Internal Audit Report was published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to provide an overview of procedures and practices for the cremation of infants and young children at Hazlehead Crematorium.

More information

A detailed summary of the procedure used for Procedure for Infant Cremations at Aberdeen Crematorium was published in November 2014.

In May 2015, Aberdeen City Council published information about infant cremations at Aberdeen Crematorium between 1975 and 2014 in response to a request for this information.

Please note, the figures given in reports and responses vary depending on the specific age group referred to, and whether figures for different age groups have been combined.

Hazlehead Crematorium: Internal Audit Report 2013

An audit into procedures for the cremation of infants and young children at Aberdeen City Council's Hazlehead Crematorium has been completed.

The audit was ordered by Aberdeen City Council Chief Executive Valerie Watts in January 2013 in light of concerns surrounding issues at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh and questions which were being raised about procedures at other crematoria across Scotland. It was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and aimed to provide an overview of procedures and practices at Hazlehead Crematorium.

In light of this audit, Aberdeen City Council has been looking to formalise its policy in respect of the cremation process for infants aged 18 months or less. This could include producing a formal statement on the cremation process which would be provided to parents or guardians by funeral directors or NHS Grampian. The Council is also considering the direction from the Scottish Government and the findings of the Infant Cremation Commission and is amending its policy accordingly.

Contact details

If you have any concerns surrounding past practices at Hazlehead Crematorium please contact Aberdeen City Council directly:

Bereavement Services
Business Hub 3
Ground Floor South
Marischal College
Broad Street
Aberdeen
AB10 1AB

03000 200 292
cremations@aberdeencity.gov.uk

Q and A on Dame Elish Angiolini Report into National Cremation Investigation

Other crematoriums used trays to hold baby coffins, and ACC stopped using them about 30 years ago, we believe, due to health and safety reasons for staff. Since this came to light, we have reviewed our processes and now use trays for all cases. Aberdeen Crematorium has recovered ashes from all cremations where a tray has been used.

They were not recoverable previously because the former cremation process (i.e. without a cremation tray) reduced baby ashes to such an extent that ashes were not recoverable when raked down to the ash recovery pan. The use of a tray now, along with other measures, enables baby ashes to be recovered.

There was one occasion when Aberdeen Crematorium scattered ashes without parents' acknowledgement. On this occasion, we understand it was a foetus (under 24 weeks gestation). This happened shortly after the Mortonhall baby ashes news broke (Nov 2012) and was as a result of the cremator technician questioning if they could see ashes. The cremator was raked down and ashes were recovered. Scottish Government guidance at the time was there would be no ashes from foetus cremations; however since ashes were recovered, we should have informed the parents. The ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance.

Other than the above instance, there is no evidence which indicates that ashes were scattered without parents' consent.

ACC has considerably changed practices and procedures at Aberdeen Crematorium in the last two and a half years. Parents can be assured baby ashes are collected and dealt with in a dignified manner and with respect.

An independent review by an industry organisation has confirmed ACC is 'making every effort to present an excellent service' and we will continue to ensure staff are fully trained and understand the importance of treating remains carefully and with respect.

All still-births (over 24 weeks' gestation) and deceased babies are cremated individually using trays so ashes can be collected and returned to parents, or scattered in accordance with their wishes.

As per Scottish Government guidelines, foetuses/pregnancy losses (under 24 weeks' gestation) come from NHS Grampian and NHS Grampian informs the mother/parents they can ask for an individual cremation, a shared cremation (along with other foetuses/pregnancy losses), or burial. ACC complies with any such request.

  1. All coffins of babies, stillborn children and foetuses/pregnancy loss are placed on the Chapel's catafalque prior to cremation;
  2. The coffin is then placed within a specially made metal cremation tray and inserted into the cremator;
  3. The tray is positioned in the cremator away from the primary burner and cremation is carried out using an infant cremation programme to maximise the recovery of ashes;
  4. The tray is removed and a special lid placed over the tray to allow it to cool;
  5. The ashes are carefully collected and placed in an urn;
  6. The ash urn is placed in locked room to await collection or scattering (in accordance with the wishes of the applicant).

Cremation Registers are not publicly accessible documents. Staff can access appropriate and relevant information on your behalf.


Would you like to give feedback about the new website?