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Police Retained Body Parts

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9:33am 28th May 2012
(Updated 9:33am 28th May 2012)

Pirate FM has learnt Devon and Cornwall Police have kept nineteen body parts after post mortems.

The force held onto nineteen human tissue samples, according to a report by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Bosses insist, eighteen of those were stored for 'legitimate reasons'. They also said the families of those involved had been informed.

The samples are among nearly five hundred held by police forces across the country, some dating as far back as 1960.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike West, said, "The police, along with HM Coroner and the NHS, retain tissue samples which have been obtained during the investigation of unexplained, unexpected or suspicious deaths for a number of legitimate reasons. Such reasons include ongoing coronial processes under the direction of HM Coroner, during criminal and medical investigations and until the conclusion of criminal justice and appeals processes.

"When this is the case, the families of those involved are kept informed and are aware of this process. We recognise this can be a traumatic time for families but in the majority of cases, the families we are working with understand the need for this retention, and are fully supportive of the decision and the rationale that is provided.

"It is important to remember Devon and Cornwall Police investigate hundreds of deaths each year with thousands of, often microscopic, human tissue samples taken as part of these investigations, which are disposed of or repatriated, in the appropriate manner and in line with family wishes, legislation and best practice."

Rose Dixon is CEO of the charity Support After Murder and Manslaughter. She said, "When you have your funeral, you think that's it, you're saying goodbye to your loved one. To then find out, sometimes many many years later, part of your loved is sitting somewhere on a shelf, is devastating for the families."

Rose is worried families won't have enough time to decide what happens next: "You cannot make a quick decision in this situation, because you suddenly have all the trauma coming up for you, and you can't think straight. They need time to come to terms with what's happened.

9:33am 28th May 2012

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