Po­lice apol­ogy for keep­ing body parts

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your - By BEN TRUSLOVE ben.truslove@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk @Et­ben­truslove

MORE than 30 body parts were kept need­lessly by the po­lice for years, some­times with­out the fam­ily’s knowl­edge, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice re­port.

Cam­bridgeshire po­lice has apol­o­gised af­ter an au­dit by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Chief Po­lice Of­fi­cers (ACPO) re­vealed it kept 35 ma­jor or­gans and limbs, which formed ev­i­dence in cases which are no longer un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Some were held by the force for 20 years.

This com­pares to the Po­lice Ser­vice of North­ern Ire­land which had kept the most with 71 items while 13 po­lice forces across the Eng­land and Wales which had not kept any.

A Cam­bridgeshire po­lice spokes­woman said: “The force, in part­ner­ship with the Coroner’s Of­fice and the Strate­gic Health Ser­vice, car­ried out an au­dit of hu­man tis­sue re­tained as part of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into sud­den, un­ex­plained or sus­pi­cious deaths.

“This au­dit was con­ducted fol­low­ing a change in the Hu­man Tis­sue Au­dit which means we no longer need to re­tain these items.

“Po­lice fam­ily li­ai­son of­fi­cers con­tacted the fam­i­lies in­volved to en­sure they had the nec­es­sary sup­port and ad­vice through­out the process. We are sorry for the up­set that has been caused to them.”

The re­port was com­mis­sioned af­ter in­spec­tions by the Hu­man Tis­sue Au­thor­ity in 2009 led to the tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion of the post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion li­cence in Cardiff.

Asked why Cam­bridgeshire po­lice had kept the body parts, a spokes­woman re­ferred the ET to ACPO’S re­port.

This says that when some- one dies in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances a post-mortem exam is car­ried out and some­times body parts are kept for fur­ther test­ing in­clud­ing tox­i­col­ogy or ex­am­i­na­tions by other ex­perts.

But when asked the Cam­bridgeshire po­lice spokes­woman de­clined to say why the force had kept these par­tic­u­lar body parts, what spe­cific or­gans or limbs they were and where they were stored.

ACPO’S Deputy Chief Con­sta­ble Deb­bie Simp­son said: “The po­lice has a duty of care to­wards the fam­i­lies of those who die in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances or in homi­cide cases, to en­sure such cases are fully in­ves­ti­gated while loved ones are treated with dig­nity and com­pas­sion.

“It is clear this is an area where the po­lice ser­vice needs to work with crim­i­nal jus­tice part­ners in­clud­ing coro­ners, pathol­o­gists and de­fence ex­perts to en­sure that we adopt and fol­low good prac­tice.”

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