Northumberland County Council is taking action after an investigation uncovered serious errors at two cemeteries in Berwick.
An independent investigation commissioned by the council has revealed some historical inaccuracies in burial records affecting a number of graves established before 2009 in Berwick North Road and Tweedmouth Cemeteries.
Since taking over management of the cemeteries from Berwick Borough Council in 2009, Northumberland County Council has identified some inaccuracies in record keeping and is now taking action to rectify these as soon as possible.
The council is taking steps to contact families that it believes to be affected – and in most cases the issues can be rectified by simply clarifying details for the burial records.
In a very small number of cases more detailed investigation may be needed and the council is stressing that it will work very closely with families and take any action only with their approval and express permission.
Councillor Roger Styring, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Our detailed investigations have found some problems with historical records at the cemeteries which are causing us considerable concern.
“We understand that this could be extremely upsetting for people affected by this and we’re sorry for the distress caused. We are making a commitment to all of the families involved that we will deal with these issues in an extremely sensitive manner. We are putting support in place to ensure that anyone affected has full knowledge and any support and guidance that they need during the work.
“We understand that this may cause upset and uncertainty for people with friends or relatives buried there and we are deeply sympathetic towards them during this difficult time.
“We would like to reassure people that we are working with the greatest of care, respect and sensitivity, and our sympathies are with anyone who is involved.”
The council is also reviewing all systems and procedures at the cemetery – and will be taking further actions which ensure that these types of inaccuracy do not occur in the future.
We anticipate that only a small number of people will be affected but a dedicated helpline has been set up for families who have any concerns.
This number will open from 8am until 8pm on 08444 632330 (or 0203 4170270 for anyone outside the UK).
Outside these hours you can complete an online form here and a member of staff will call back