Baby cremation practices criticised

Written by Andrew Whitaker on 28 June 2016 in News

Report highlights unethical and abhorrent practices at crematorium 

Babies were cremated alongside unrelated adults as part of a series of "unethical and abhorrent practices" at Aberdeen Crematorium, a report from Scotland’s former top law officer has said.
 
Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini has issued the 400-page national cremation investigation into the ‘baby ashes scandal’.
 
Scottish Government ministers commissioned the report after it was revealed in 2013 that no ashes had been offered to the families of infants cremated in Aberdeen over a five-year period.

Innocent victims


The crematorium at Hazlehead in Aberdeen was among those investigated after it emerged staff at the Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh had been burying baby ashes in secret for decades.

The report concluded: "The evidence discloses unethical and abhorrent practices at Aberdeen Crematorium over many years, including the cremation of foetuses and babies along with unrelated and un-known adults."
 
It also recommends a new law prohibiting the mixing of baby ashes with those of another person.
 
The investigation looked at 14 crematoria and more than 200 cases across Scotland.
 
The report said there was no overall strategic management of the crematorium by Aberdeen City Council, and that the focus among officials was on budget rather than policy.
 
It said an infant cremation commission led by Lord Bonomy was misled about practices taking place there.
 
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell, commenting on the findings, said: "No parent should ever have to go through the pain of not knowing what happened to their child's ashes.
 
"But, sadly, this has not been the case for far too many parents in Scotland.
 
"Some of the historic practices uncovered in this report are unacceptable and, frankly, appalling.
 
"It is awful that parents who have lost their child in such sad circumstances have had their grief compounded by the actions of those they trusted to support them.
 
"While I understand it may be little comfort for those who have been affected in the past, much has changed in Scotland since these issues first came to light."
 
She added: "I want to thank Dame Elish and echo her words in the report that pay tribute to the great courage and dignity that those parents involved have shown through their participation."

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