Last updated 16th April 2018
'Boy, 5, airlifted to hospital with head injuries after gravestone falls on him'
This was a headline in October 2016 following an incident in a churchyard in one of the Lancaster Archdeaconry's parishes. The incident highlights the need for PCCs to exercise reasonable care in managing their churchyards.
Whilst a PCC cannot guarantee the safety of all memorials, a regular and fully documented safety inspection programme will go a long way to fulfilling the PCC’s legal obligations.
Ecclesiastical Insurance have worked with Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) to produce guidance on avoiding slips, trips and falls in burial sites. Caring for God’s Acre provides information and advice to people responsible for the management of burial sites including church and chapel yards, cemeteries and green burial grounds, predominantly in England and Wales. There is much more help and guidance on looking after these grounds on their web site.
Graveyards and burial grounds are often visited by many people from families of those buried there to people who are just looking for a quiet place to wander. It is important that churches do pay attention to these areas and ensure that they have addressed issues such as the possibility of slips, trips and falls, caused by common issues such as uneven ground, horizontal grave kerbs and broken headstones.
Make sure that broken graves and broken kerbs are removed, repaired or replaced and where graves are no longer visited or rarely visited, such as the old part of a churchyard that the following activities are completed:
A diocesan guidance note is available for PCCs.
Ecclesiastical have also produced more detailed guidance (specifically p20-21)