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On 7 September, Anglia Research attended #APSE17, the annual award ceremony of the Association for Public Service Excellence, where we were sponsoring the best service team of the year award in the cemetery and crematorium category.

APSE service awards are designed to recognise excellence in local government frontline services across the UK.

Anglia Research’s executive director Philip Turvey, who announced the ‘team of the year’ in the cemetery and crematorium category, congratulated the winning team.

“Kettering Borough Council has pursued a vision of community-focused service through modern, efficient working practices.

“Our sponsorship of the award arose from our commitment to excellent service delivery and high standards of public accountability and transparency.

This commitment is reflected in our research into the role and statutory duties of local authorities when dealing with those who die intestate with no known next of kin.

Those involved in empty homes work, adult social care and funeral services will find our research invaluable. Our investigation is ongoing, but the results so far are available online, together with an analysis of our findings:

Local authorities: why do they use heir hunters?   In 2015 we began sending requests to local authorities concerning their use of genealogical researchers to trace next of kin when the authority needed to conduct a public health funeral. This is a report of the responses we received by November 2016.

Myths about the Public Health Act and the duties of local authorities   Our research uncovered a minefield of misunderstandings about public health funerals and the related duties of local authorities. In this article, we look at both the myths and the facts. For example, it is a widely held misconception that a relative must be found before an authority can recover its funeral costs.

Guidance on the use by local authorities of genealogical researchers   This guidance note for local authorities dealing with an intestate death within their boundaries provides background details and points for consideration by chief legal and finance officers.

When you scrap competition, who foots the bill?   The practice of providing information to heir hunters on an exclusive basis has a number of unintended consequences. In this article we focus on the issue of excessive charges.

The case for competition: transparency leads to better research   When local authorities refer cases to heir hunters on an exclusive basis they may risk adversely affecting the quality of research conducted. In this article, we explain why this can happen.

Our draft code of practice on the use of genealogists or heir hunters by local authorities has been welcomed across the country. This is a voluntary code of practice that authorities may wish to adopt in order to promote probity and transparency, minimise risk and avoid reputational damage.