Memorandum by the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme
I am writing on behalf of the Funeral Ombudsman
and would like to make some comments on the inquiry in relation
to cemeteries. This is an area that falls outside the Ombudman's
jurisdiction if a complaint is made against the cemetery authority.
However, the complaints and enquiries that we receive from the
general public provide us with some insight into areas that can
be a cause for concern. We thought that this information might
be helpful to your inquiry.
1. There is some concern about the general
condition of certain cemeteries and the safety aspects of old
memorials. We also receive enquiries about the manner in which
graves are prepared both before and after the funeral. eg JCB
still in view during burial.
2. We are also aware of problems that can
arise over the different types of plots available and the varying
rates that are charged. It is not always made clear to clients
what their choices are. We have also seen some evidence of poor
record keeping in relation to recording the plot numbers together
with the proper names of those buried there.
3. We have had enquiries concerning the
length of leases on graves which have been as short as 25 years.
The public does not always realise that they do not own a grave.
4. We have also seen problems arise over
the deeds of a grave in particular where there is a family dispute
or where the deeds have been lost and there are no records kept
by the cemetery.
A more general point is that some cemeteries
seem reluctant to take responsibility for a mistake on their part.
We have found that not many people are aware that they can make
a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman if they have a complaint
against a municipal cemetery.