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Public Health Funerals in Dorset

Public Health Funeral arrangements 

We have a responsibility under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to make arrangements and pay for Public Health Funerals in certain circumstances:

  • when someone dies without making a will and appointing an executor, and
  • when the council does not believe there are any relatives or friends willing or able to make the funeral arrangements, following reasonable enquiries.

The cost of making arrangements can be acquired using funds from the deceased person's estate (the belongings owned by that person). The council will only arrange and pay for a funeral if no one else is willing to do so.

For more information please contact Environmental Health.

Freedom of Information requests 

We are frequently asked for information about public health funerals, people who have died with no known next of kin, bona vacantia estates and estates which have been referred to the Treasury Solicitor, or Duchy of Lancaster or Cornwall. In response to these requests, we are releasing the following information about public health funerals for the previous three years.

We only refer cases to the Government Legal Department when the next of kin cannot be traced and the estate is over £500.

Information relating to public health funerals will be updated on a monthly basis as cases are completed.

View the Register of Public Health Funerals 

We apply the following exemptions to the release of any further information about public health funerals, people who have died with no known next of kin, bona vacantia estates and estates which have been referred to the Treasury Solicitor, or Duchy of Lancaster or Cornwall:

Section 21 - Information Reasonably Accessible to the Applicant by Another Means

Our reason for applying this exemption is that details of all deaths within the area are registered. Deaths can be registered at any Registry Office. Information that the council holds on estates passed, or estates to be passed, to the Treasury Solicitor, is considered to be held on behalf of the Treasury Solicitor's Department. Some details of the estate of those persons who have died and which have been passed to the Treasury Solicitor can be accessed via the Treasury Solicitor's websiteor via the bona vacantia website

Section 31 - Law Enforcement

Revealing details of the assets of an estate before the Treasury Solicitor has undertaken their own enquiries would provide an opportunity for criminal acts to be committed (for example, theft or fraud).

Similarly, there would be concerns about making the last known address of the deceased public, as the property is likely to be unoccupied and might still contain the deceased's personal papers and effects. There is also a continuing risk after the estate has been secured of, for example, identity theft. Taking into account the above issues, the council considers that there is no over-riding public interest in releasing the information requested. Any public interest would be best served by upholding the exemption under Section 31 of the Act as disclosure of the information would be likely to prejudice the prevention of crime by enabling or encouraging the commission of offences. 

Freedom of information (FOI) and data protection 

Anyone can make an information request for recorded information held by the council.  The council will decide whether an information request should be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) or The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).  You can find out more about this in Access to information and fees.

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