Grave stone safety


  1. Overview
  2. Why we carry out memorial inspections
  3. About our inspection programme
  4. Headstone ownership
  5. More information


South Tyneside Council is responsible for six cemeteries and many closed churchyards, which collectively contain around 30,000 memorial stones.

These are places to grieve, reflect and remember our loved ones in a beautiful and tranquil setting.

Therefore, it is important that we ensure that they are safe environments for visitors and employees.

Why we carry out memorial inspections

The Council have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to maintain a safe environment for employees, contractors and all other cemetery and churchyard visitors.

Unfortunately, there have been many instances over the years where people have died as a result of memorials falling on them, therefore a thorough testing and inspection regime is critical.

About our inspection programme

Inspections will commence in Spring / Summer 2022, and we hope to complete all inspections within 2 years.

After this, every memorial will be inspected as part of a 5-year rolling programme.

The Council's Memorial Safety Policy explains how we inspect memorials and what actions we take when a memorial is found to be unsafe.

Headstone ownership

Although the Council is responsible for the safety of our cemeteries and closed churchyards, we do not own the memorials. They belong to the owners of the graves.

However, many owners are deceased or untraceable.

As such, the responsibility for managing unsafe memorials falls upon us.

If a memorial is deemed unsafe, we will attempt to contact the grave owner.

More information

Please contact Bereavement Services on 0191 427 3190 if you have any questions about the inspection of a memorial, or if you are concerned about the safety of a memorial.