After the media exposed a national scandal in June 2015 in which babies’ ashes were being lost by crematoriums around the country, causing parents already grieving the loss of their children enormous distress, the government launched a consultation looking into the matter.
The consultation was brought by then Justice Minister, Caroline Dinenage, now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice.
Based on the findings of the consultation, Caroline has this morning released a statement outlining recommendations in order to ensure babies’ ashes are protected and properly managed. The government plans to do the following:
- Introduce a statutory definition of ashes.
- Amend statutory cremation forms to make sure that applicants’ wishes in relation to recovered ashes are explicit and clearly recorded before a cremation takes place.
- Where parents choose a cremation following a pregnancy loss of a foetus of less than 24 weeks’ gestation, the government will bring such cremations into the scope of the regulations, like all other cremations. There are no plans to alter parents’ current choices following a pre-24 week pregnancy loss, so parents will continue to be able to choose between cremation, burial and sensitive incineration or they can ask the hospital to make all arrangements on their behalf.
- Establish a national cremation working group of experts to advise the government on a number of technical matters related to our proposed reforms, such as the detail of new regulations and forms, codes of practice and training for cremation authority staff, information for bereaved parents, and whether there should be an inspector of crematoria.