THE family of a child killed by a falling gravestone have criticised a government report on safety in cemeteries and called it a 'box ticking exercise'.

Ciaran Williamson's father and grandmother say the new guidelines published this month do not go far enough to ensure a similar tragedy won't happen again.

Ciaran, 8, died when a 7ft headstone fell on him in Craigton cemetery, Glasgow, in May 2015, severing his spinal cord and killing him instantly.

Ryan Williamson and Margaret Aitken believe the Scottish Government's report gives local authorities, who are responsible for burial ground maintenance, the same opportunities as before the tragedy to ignore inspection and maintenance regimes if they are short of cash or resources.

READ MORE: Prosecution call from mother of Glasgow graveyard death boy Ciaran Williamson

They also say the guidelines are just a repetition of existing standards, such as those published by the National association of Memorial Masons (NAMM), the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) and the UK Government.

Ciaran's grandmother Ms Aitken said: “The problem we have is that these are merely guidelines. “We have been saying all along that there should be legislation, to ensure that local authorities have to maintain burial grounds properly. If these are just guidelines what are the legal implications if they do not follow them? We've read the report, all 33 pages of it, and it just repeats over and over that councils 'may' use the guidelines. Nowhere does it say they have to follow them.”

Mr Williamson, Ciaran's father, added: “I am now facing yet another Father's Day without Ciaran, all because a council didn't have a proper maintenance programme in place. I don't see how this does anything to stop another wee boy or girl being killed in the same situation.

”We are constantly being told that local authorities have no money and that funding is being cut all over the place. Glasgow has seen a massive cut in its funding – the same council that, before their funding was reduced– were already neglecting their inspection programmes which led to the death of my son.

“How will councils now suddenly be able to afford these 'suggested' inspection programmes if they have even less funding? It's too little, too late.”

In Scotland, 32 councils have responsibility for more than 2,200 cemeteries, and hundreds of thousands of gravestones. The Fatal Accident inquiry into Ciaran's death heard that one of the reasons a proper inspection regime wasn't in place in Glasgow was due to a lack of resources.

The inquiry heard that an employee raised concerns about the issue in 2013, but no action was taken. It was reported last year that a number of councils still did not have a programme of inspection in place and some were relying on members of the public or ad-hoc inspections to identify any safety concerns.

READ MORE: Police warned of gravestone dangers years before Ciaran Williamson died at Craigton Cemetery

Ms Aitken and Mr Williamson said the report – Burial ground memorial safety: local authority guidance – gives little guidance on what to do if the owner of a lair can't be found, which was the case with the 8ft Ross memorial which crushed Ciaran, erected in the 1920s.

The report states: “The responsibility for the full and complete repair of memorials remains the

duty of the lair owner...The long term solution to address all memorials which have failed assessment is to complete a full repair. Any repairs which are carried out would expected to

be repaired to current industry standards with an appropriate level of guarantee offered by those making the repairs.

“Local constraints, potentially imposed by the total cost for large numbers of memorials requiring repair or confirming lair ownership, may mean this is not always possible.”

Ms Aitken said: “This comes across as if they are they saying if lair holders can't be traced it doesn’t matter. The headstone which killed Ciaran was old, there weren't any owners. So in that situation, it's still unclear what councils are supposed to do to make sure that is safe? It says they should repair the headstone, but basically it might not be possible if they can't afford it. How is this any different to the situation we had before Ciaran died?

“While the report in itself is step forward, to us it does seem like they are just producing it to look like they've done something. It doesn't sit well with me and I don't know how they have taken so long to produce this document, which gives nothing more than what is already there in the NAMM or other guidelines.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Ciaran Williamson.

“The Scottish Government is confident that the comprehensive guidance on memorial safety, will bring about positive and effective change and improvements on memorial safety, assisting local authorities with their statutory responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act.”