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Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

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Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby SDV » Tue Dec 17, 2019 11:53 am

I have been informed by the Assistant Cemetery Manager of Portsmouth Council that they are unable to send out copies of the burial register, containing the details of my father's burial in 1995.

Do they have the right to withhold a public document? This seems preposterous, especially given that I am his next of kin, as his first born son.
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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:06 pm

Well, it's not a public (in the sense of open to view) document, but the deceased are not covered by GDPR / Data Protection.

I believe from what other cemetery authorities do, that the concern is with revealing names and addresses of other people on the page who organized matters. I would suggest that you repeat your request saying that this is a Freedom of Information request (probably best to read up on what those are first to make sure that FoI applies) and that you would like a copy of that entry only with the others redacted out or with details of potentially living people redacted - whichever seems to be the best.

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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby SDV » Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:11 pm

Adrain - many thanks for this.

I have already replied to them pointing out the nonsense of their position, given that other authorities routinely release such copies. Indeed, websites such as deceased online do nothing but publish such documents.

I will wait for their reply before taking it further, making use of your suggestions.
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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby junkers » Wed Dec 18, 2019 3:36 am

As Portsmouth Council are a public body they are obliged to send you a copy of the entry, have they explained why they cannot supply you with a copy, they certainly should. If they refuse then you can ask for a review and if that fails there is the Information Commissioner's Office to go to.
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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:23 am

Deceased Online will often redact the names and addresses of the people who organized the burial. There will be, in such a case, a note to say that "Contact details are redacted at the request of Ambridge District Council" or similar. The redaction is simply done by a piece of card over that column, if I recall correctly. That's a permanent redaction, of course, since it's present on the original. Whether it's their only redaction method, I don't know.

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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby Guy » Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:48 am

SDV wrote:I have been informed by the Assistant Cemetery Manager of Portsmouth Council that they are unable to send out copies of the burial register, containing the details of my father's burial in 1995.

Do they have the right to withhold a public document? This seems preposterous, especially given that I am his next of kin, as his first born son.


If that is the case they are breaking the law.
The Registration of Burials Act, 1864 states-

"Whereas Provision is made by Law in England for the Registration of Burials performed according to the Rites of the Established Church and of all Burials in Grounds provided under the Burial Acts :
’And whereas it is expedient that all Burials in England be registered :’"

It further specifies-

“6. The Register Books kept under this Act shall, as to Searches therein and Copies thereof and Extracts therefrom, be subject to the Regulations of the Act of the Session of the Sixth and Seventh Years of King William the Fourth (Chapter Eighty-six), “for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages, in England,” so far as those Regulations relate to Register Books of Burials kept by Rectors, Vicars, or Curates.”

The Sixth and Seventh Years of King William the Fourth refers to the 1836/7 Acts (An Act for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England [17th August 1836.] & An Act to explain and amend Two Acts passed in the last Session of Parliament, for Marriages and for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages, in England. [30th June 1837.]).

The Act for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England [17th August 1836.] states

“XXXV. And be it enacted, That every Rector, Vicar, or Curate, and every Registrar, Registering Officer, and Secretary, who shall have the keeping for the Time being of any Register Book of Births, Deaths, or Marriages, shall at all reasonable Times allow Searches to be made of any Register Book in his keeping, and shall give a Copy certified under his Hand of any Entry or Entries in the same, on Payment of the Fee herein-after mentioned ; (that is to say,) for every Search extending over a Period not more than One Year the Sum of One Shilling, and Sixpence additional for every additional Year, and the Sum of Two Shillings and Sixpence for every single Certificate.
XXXVI. And be it enacted, That every Superintendent Registrar shall cause Indexes of the Register Books in his Office to be made, and kept with the other Records of his Office ; and that every Person shall be entitled at all reasonable Hours to search the said Indexes, and to have a certified Copy of any Entry or Entries in the said Register Books under the Hand of the Superintendent Registrar, on Payment of the Fees herein-after mentioned ; (that is to say,) for every general Search the Sum of Five Shillings, and for every particular Search the Sum of One Shilling, and for every such certified Copy the Sum of Two Shillings and Sixpence.”
These Acts have been further updates and various Statutory Instruments have been published updating the relevant fees, but the fact still remains that the Assistant Cemetery Manager of Portsmouth Council is breaking the law if he/she refuses to supply a full copy of an entry in any burial register retained by him/her.

It should also be noted that as the supply of such a certificate is required by an Act of Parliament it cannot be redacted as it is exempt under the law.

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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby SDV » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:58 am

I have received no further reply from the Assistant Cemeteries Manager at Portsmouth City Council. Her last reply simply stated that "We are unable to send out copies of the burial register I can advise the burial took place at Kingston cemetery on 10/11/1995. This is all the information we have"

I see little point in contacting her again, as she seems unwilling to reply. Any suggestions as to how I go over her head? Who would be the best person to contact?
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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby junkers » Thu Dec 19, 2019 1:20 pm

I suggest you contact the Information Commissioner's Office (https://ico.org.uk/). They can either enable you to get a copy from Portsmouth or force them to.
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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby trace » Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:54 pm

Wondering......
What information are you hoping to get?

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Re: Refusal to supply copy of a burial register

Postby Guy » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:23 pm

SDV wrote:I have received no further reply from the Assistant Cemeteries Manager at Portsmouth City Council. Her last reply simply stated that "We are unable to send out copies of the burial register I can advise the burial took place at Kingston cemetery on 10/11/1995. This is all the information we have"

I see little point in contacting her again, as she seems unwilling to reply. Any suggestions as to how I go over her head? Who would be the best person to contact?


In many councils it is the crematorium manager who deals with burials often the cemetery manager only deals with the day to day running of the cemetery. I would contact the crematorium manager in case that is the case in Portsmouth.
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