This policy sets out the council’s policy on how routine safety testing of memorials in Knutsford Cemetery.

The policy is overseen by the Assets and Operations Committee and was last updated in November 2020.



1.1 Whilst the maintenance and insurance of a memorial is the responsibility of the owner of the Exclusive Right of Burial the council has an obligation to ensure the safety of all visitors to the cemetery and as such must undertake routine testing of memorial safety.

1.2 The core of the council’s memorial safety testing is a rolling programme of inspections to ensure all memorials are inspected every five years. This policy sets out what the council will do when it identifies a memorial is unsafe.

1.3 A dangerous or unstable memorial is defined as one that will move and continue to fall to the ground with the exertion of a force of 25kg or less.

1.4 The Town Clerk is responsible for ensuring the implementation of this policy.
Memorial Inspections

2.1 The council will undertake routine memorial inspections in November/December annually.

2.2 The council will also undertake inspections on the memorials surrounding a grave when it is being prepared for opening.

2.3 Before undertaking a memorial inspection, the inspector shall have received suitable training.

2.4 For memorials between 625mm and 1500mm tall, the inspection will comprise a visual inspection and a hand test in line with ICCM guidance.

2.5 For memorials over 1500mm tall (or for complex structures) a hand test may not be appropriate, and if a visual inspection suggests potential issues with a memorial an external structural survey or inspection by a memorial mason will be required.

2.6 Each memorial shall be assigned to one of three categories:

  • Category 1 (C1) – immediate action is required
  • Category 2 (C2) – annual reinspection is required
  • Category 3 (C3) – quinquennial reinspection is required

2.7 A written record of inspections shall be kept detailing:

  • Section and Grave Number
  • Name on memorial
  • Priority Category
  • Date of inspection
  • Name of inspector
  • Explanation of failure for C1 and C2 memorials
  • Name of mason (if visible) for C1 and C2 memorials

2.8 A photographic record shall be taken of all C1 and C2 memorials


3.1 The council will announce the commencement of its routine memorial inspections programme in local press, the council website and on the council’s social media. The announcement will explain which sections are being inspected and what visitors can expect to see during this time.

3.2 A sign will be placed at the entrance to the cemetery stating that routine inspections are taking place and this will be removed once the families of all C1 memorials have been written to.

Inspection Categories

Category 1

4.1 A Category 1 (C1) memorial is an immediate danger to the public and must be immediately made safe.

4.2 On identifying a C1 memorial the inspector shall immediately do one of the following to make the area safe:

  • Install a stake and banding to prevent the memorial falling
  • Securely cordon off the area to prevent the public accessing the memorial
  • Lay the memorial (or part thereof) flat

4.3 A notice will be installed on the memorial advising the owner to contact the council to discuss the failure.

4.4 Where memorials have been inscribed in the last 30 years, the council will write to the holder of the Exclusive Right of Burial at the last known address to advise:

  • the memorial has failed an inspection
  • what immediate action has been taken
  • what further action is required and the timescale for doing so

4.5 The council will look to secure a discounted cost from approved masons to undertake repairs to memorials in bulk and will offer this to the rights holder. The cost will include an administration fee of £25.

4.6 The rights holder may contract their own mason to undertake the repair and this will follow the process for approval of works to a memorial which is subject to an administration fee of £50.

4.7 If the repair is not undertaken within three months from notification, the council will fund the repair to the memorial and this cost must then be repaid to the council before the Exclusive Right of Burial is further exercised. The repair will either be to:

  • Bring the memorial to the current BS415 specification
  • Bury the bottom 1/3 of the memorial
  • Embed the headstone flat within the grave

Or such other works as considered necessary which may include (as a matter of last resort) the removal of the memorial.

Category 2

4.8 A Category 2 (C2) memorial is not an immediate danger to the public but is not fully stable.

4.9 Memorials may also be classified as C2 if their position, construction of material suggests a more frequent inspection should be undertaken.

4.10 All C2 memorials shall be inspected annually.

4.11 For memorials where simple remedial work will enable a memorial to be reclassified as C3, the council will look to secure discounted repairs to memorials as part of a maintenance programme and offer to recharge this cost to the holders of the Exclusive Right of Burial.

Category 3

4.12 A Category 3 (C3) memorial is one that is perfectly stable or below 625mm in height.

4.13 C3 memorials shall be reinspected quinquennially.