Changes to law for registering deaths

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A new law has been introduced concerning the registration of deaths in Scotland.

Some deaths will be selected at random for review – which may lead to delays in burial or cremation of up to five days while the cases are investigated.

There are two levels of investigation. Level 1, which may take up to 24 hours, or Level 2, which could take three to five days.

This means the death cannot be registered and a funeral arranged until the review is carried out.

The changes follow a lengthy enquiry after the prosecution of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman in 1998.

Deaths must be registered before either a burial or cremation can take place.

Until now, a burial could take place before a death is registered.

Families are no longer required to pay fees for cremation forms.

Fees for cremation forms signed by doctors will no longer apply in Scotland.

Next of kin will no longer have to pay around £170 for paperwork relating to their loved one’s cremation.

For the first time, relatives will have the right to request a review of the information on the certificate if they have any concerns. Legislation was prompted in part by recommendations arising from the crimes of Dr Harold Shipman, to stop any malpractice and ensure there is proper scrutiny of the death certification process.

Further information is available from the register offices at the council offices at Eastwood Park in Giffnock and in Main Street, Barrhead or directly from undertakers.