The Government has published its response to the recent consultation on infant cremations, which sought views on proposals for a number of changes to the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008 and for improving other aspects of cremation practice. The Government consulted between December 2015 and March 2016 following consideration of David Jenkins’ report of June 2015 into infant cremations at Emstrey Crematorium and Lord Bonomy’s Scottish Infant Cremation Commission report of June 2014. The reports found that ashes were either not recovered following infant cremations, or were recovered but parents were neither consulted over what should happen to their babies’ ashes nor advised of the ashes’ final resting place.
Following consideration of the responses, the Government plans to make the following changes:
- to introduce a statutory definition of ashes;
- to 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, to bring such cremations into the scope of the regulations, like all other cremations; and
- to establish a national cremation working group of experts to advise on a number of technical matters related to the 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..
The Government emphasises that 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.