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Cops were called to large funeral crowds ‘on a few occasions’ during lockdown

Police officers were called to Scottish funerals “on a few occasions” after large numbers of mourners gathered despite coronavirus restrictions.

During lockdown, when numbers were limited at funerals to 20, police were called as a result of large crowds.

The details have emerged in a report for the Scottish Government.

Robert Swanson, the senior inspector of burial, cremation and funeral directors noted that “large attendances outside crematoria during funerals remained an issue”.

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His report added that “assistance was requested by some crematorium staff on a few occasions from Police Scotland”.

The annual report, which actually covers the period from April 2020 to September 2021, went on to note that it was “difficult to obtain” details of all those gathered outside crematoria for contact tracing purposes.

There were also “practical issues” with this when the number of people permitted to be at ceremonies was increased.

While there was “total compliance across the sector” with mandatory restrictions, the report noted there were “variations” in how advisory guidelines were applied – with the differences resulting in some crematoria being more popular than others.

It stated that “concern was also raised by a number of cremation authorities over neighbouring crematoria having different levels of restrictions in place”.

The report continued: “Funeral Directors were often asked by families as to what was, and what was not, allowed at neighbouring crematoria. This did result in certain crematoria being much busier than others.”

But the report also noted that live streaming of services was able to be achieved at “almost all crematoria” during the coronavirus pandemic “despite a number of issues around signal strength in remote areas”.

While most organisations working in the funeral sector had contingencies in place for dealing with “unexpected demand”, the challenges that were faced during Covid-19 “were not only the number of excess deaths, but dealing with these during an ongoing pandemic with all the necessary precautions and restrictions imposed by legislation or guidelines”.

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