Laura Sharman 17 August 2016

Council chief releases report into baby ashes scandal

The chief executive of Aberdeen City Council has vowed to implement a ‘culture change’ of management in the wake of the baby ashes scandal.

The Hazlehead Crematorium in Aberdeen was found to be regularly cremated infants in the same chamber as adults, with parents told there were no ashes to give them.

A review into how operational and strategic responsibility had been managed at the crematorium will be presented to the council today.

However, despite repeating her ‘unreserved apology’ to those parents who did not receive their baby’s ashes, Angela Scott said the review would be kept confidential for now due to data protection issues.

She said: ‘The review is part of an ongoing process which has not as yet reached a conclusion, and of necessity the detail set out in the initial findings will be shared with the members on a confidential basis.

‘The findings are currently under active consideration and any unauthorised disclosure would potentially breach fair employment practice under employment legislation and the Data Protection Act.’

Ms Scott said the council will be asked to formally accept the findings of both the National Cremation Investigation by Dame Elish and the Infant Cremation Commission.

The report also outlines what steps the council should take to ensure the situation never happens again including taking a more proactive approach to reviewing service failures and creating an Assurance Map to show which council services are subject to independent external inspection.

Dame Elish’s review also highlighted issues with the ‘culture of management practice and focus’. Ms Scott said: ‘Since 2014 I have been implementing a culture change programme that places the customer at the heart of how we deliver vital public services.

'We will change our recruitment processes and review all of HR policies to ensure that this is placed at the very centre of what we do.’

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