Report slams practices at Kirkcaldy Crematorium

The entrance to the baby memorial garden at Kirkcaldy Crematorium.
The entrance to the baby memorial garden at Kirkcaldy Crematorium.

Grieving local families were not given the chance to have their babies’ ashes returned to them due to “unacceptable practices” in the agencies involved.

And a change of the whole culture as well as working practices surrounding the cremation of foetuses, stillborn babies and infants is necessary to “prevent any future failure of the trust of those families who have placed the remains of their loved ones in their care.”

Fife Council has promised that changes in practice have already been made and that any outstanding issues will be dealt with immediately.

The latest findings were made in a newly published report from the National Crematorium Investigation, carried out following the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal, which looked at the practices of individual crematoria around the country.

It slammed the Kirkcaldy service which it said was working in isolation “without any strategic direction, development or quality control” where staff were largely trained in-house from their more experienced peers, and with no written guidance.

And it said that the belief by medical staff and funeral directors that there would be no ashes to recover was contradicted by what was known in other facilities such as Perth – less than 40 miles away, as well as Dunfermline which is operated by the same local authority.

It also said that a special tray for collecting baby ashes should have been introduced earlier.

Steve Grimmond, Chief Executive of Fife Council, said: “We have received Dame Elish Angiolini’s report and will ensure that any outstanding recommendations it makes in relation to the operation of the crematoria in Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy are acted upon swiftly in partnership with NHS Fife and funeral directors.

“We have already made a number of changes to how we handle infant cremations in line with the recommendations made in the earlier report from the Infant Cremation Commission and will also make sure that all of our practices and procedures meet the new national standards set out in the recently-published Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016.”