Human tissue audit identified 14 samples being kept by Warwickshire Police

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Warwickshire Police had 14 human tissue samples in its possession, a new report has revealed.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) published a report into the retention on human tissue yesterday (Monday) following suspicious death or homicide investigations by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The nationwide audit, coordinated by the ACPO lead for forensic pathology Deputy Chief Constable Debbie Simpson, identified a total of 492 samples of human tissue held by, or on behalf of, police forces.

Warwickshire Police took part in the audit and identified a total of 14 samples still in its possession.

Four of these have been disposed of sensitively following contact with the families, two of whom were unaware that the samples were being kept.

At the time of the audit nine samples were being kept in case of appeal following convictions and one was the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Detective Superintendent James Essex from Warwickshire Police said: “We have conducted a thorough audit of the human tissue samples held by Warwickshire Police and as a result identified four which were no longer needed. These have been disposed of sensitively after consultation with the families.

“The remaining ten samples remain in our possession, either for potential appeal or because they form part of an ongoing investigation, and in all cases families have signed the necessary consent forms.

“Police forces are not bound by the Human Tissue Act, though we do attempt to comply with it, and as result of the audit we have reviewed our own procedures and officers have been given guidance.”

DCC Simpson said: “The police service 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.

“While policing falls outside the Human Tissue Act, and in each individual case there will be particular reasons why a tissue sample may be taken and then retained as part of an investigation, it is clear that 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.

“Protecting the interests of families affected has been central to this audit process, I will continue to work with our partners on behalf of the police service to ensure that we address the recommendations within this report.”