British police kept 150 murder victims’ organs

July 30th, 2011 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 30 (IANS) Two police departments in Britain secretly kept brains and hearts of at least 150 murder victims for years and did not inform their families, an official review has found.

While the Avon and Somerset Police revealed it kept brains, hearts and tissue samples of around 110 murder victims, West Mercia Police said it kept body parts from 44 victims, the Daily Mail reported.

The organs and tissue samples were retained as evidence in cases involving suspicious or unexplained deaths.

In many cases, police kept the organs long after the case was solved and the victim buried or cremated.

The Association of Chief Police Officers asked every police department in the country to report whether it has kept any human tissue in the last 25 years and if it is still necessary to retain it.

The total number of uninformed families could rise, as only two forces have disclosed their findings.

Police have visited the families to discuss what to do with the body parts.

Some have asked for them to be buried or cremated, with the police bearing the cost.

The family of one man, who was a victim in a suspicious death case, however, reacted with fury after they learnt police kept his brain for eight years after he was buried.

Nigel Evans, 43, died in December 2003 in Bristol after he was hit during drinking. The cause of death was later given as alcohol abuse, leading his family to believe investigations were complete.

His sister, Anne Bundy, 53, said: “I am livid. They said they had the right to take any body part, but why didn’t they tell me sooner? This has opened up a lot of pain. I shouldn’t have had to go through two funerals.”

Under the Human Tissue Act of 2006 - that provides guidelines for retaining human tissue - a framework was put in place to make families aware if organs or tissue had been retained for examination.

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