60 grieving travellers attend burial at Dunstable cemetery

A group of 60 grieving travellers drove a body in one of their vans to a hold a funeral in Dunstable at the weekend.

By Sally Murrer
Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 2:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 2:58 pm

The travellers congregated at West Street cemetery where concerns were raised over a lack of social distancing during the burial.

But police attended the incident, which happened last Thursday morning, and say no action will be taken while there were also no complaints from staff.

The funeral made national headlines with The Daily Mail reporting on the gathering.

West Street cemetery

The travellers had collected the body from a funeral directors in Bedfordshire as shown in pictures carried in The Daily Mail's report.

After the funeral the travellers drove to Sandy for a wake, parking their cars and vans on the village green.

Bedfordshire Police Chief Inspector Lee Haines said: "We were made aware of plans for a funeral due to take place in Dunstable and worked with the local authority, the cemetery, and the family, to ensure that mourners could attend to pay their respects while following social distancing measures in line with the latest government guidelines in relation to funerals.

"Our officers were on duty in the vicinity of the cemetery on the day of the funeral, however, they received no reports of offences being committed in relation to the funeral or the procession.

"One officer did attend the cemetery after the funeral had taken place to speak to staff about how the funeral had gone, however no concerns were raised and no police action was required."

West Street cemetery was closed by Dunstable Town Council for a period earlier this month because it was becoming a hotspot for people flouting lockdown rules.

There had been complaints that people were drinking and taking picnics there while ignoring social distancing rules.

But, following government advice that cemeteries should stay accessible, the gates were re-opened last week.

A Dunstable Town Council spokesman said: “We are pleased to announce the reopening of Dunstable Cemetery following further guidance outlined by Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government."

This guidance states that the number of mourners should be be as low as possible to ensure a safe distance of at least two metres (6ft) can be maintained between individuals.

Alongside the funeral director, chapel attendant and funeral staff, only members of the deceased person's household and close friends should attend.

The town council spokesman said: “We will continue to follow government advice and guidelines at all times to ensure that bereaved people are treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect and mourners and workers involved in the management of funerals are protected from infection.”