Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow changes practices after baby ashes scandal

Glasgow City Council runs Linn Crematorium
Image caption Glasgow City Council restated its apology to families who did not receive their child's ashes

Scotland's largest council has changed its infant cremation practices following the baby ashes scandal.

Glasgow City Council apologised last year for dispersing the remains of dead infants without their parents' consent after the practice came to light at Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh.

The authority now says it will return any ash left when parents request it.

The change comes after a critical report into Mortonhall by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini.

Glasgow City Council said it had always used the definition of "cremated remains" recommended by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FCBA).

This defines cremated remains, which should be returned to the bereaved family if requested, as "the skeletal remains recovered following cremation".

'Immediate' change

The authority said the previous application of this definition meant "there were likely to have been cases where there were no identifiable skeletal remains and therefore nothing was returned to bereaved parents who had asked to have their child's ashes".

Glasgow City Council said it it would cease to use this definition and instead adopt with "immediate effect" a "broad interpretation" of ashes as suggested by Dame Elish in her Mortonhall report.

Image caption Glasgow City Council acted after the report into the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal

This interpretation, the council said, would include any ash left in the cremator and would likely see ashes recovered in the vast majority of cases.

The council said that Dame Elish had also recommended the use of baby trays to recover ash from cremators and it had now ordered such trays for use at its two crematoriums - Daldowie and Linn.

The authority has also written to funeral directors in the city, and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, asking them to ensure that bereaved parents are given accurate information about the new guidelines.

Brian Devlin, the council's executive director of land and environmental services, said: "I hope that in the coming months all cremation authorities will be given a clear definition of what should be returned to bereaved families.

'Truly sorry'

"However until that happens we will move to use the definition outlined in Dame Elish Angiolini's report and we will no longer use the FCBA definition.

"The use of this narrower interpretation has meant that some families who wanted to have their baby's ashes did not get them and we are truly sorry for that.

"Over the last year we have been contacted by a number of families who had questions about their baby's ashes.

"If any bereaved family has any questions about their baby then I urge them to get in touch with us and we will do everything we can to answer their questions."

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