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22 May 2012, 11:39 | Updated: 22 May 2012, 11:47
Police have said sorry to grieving families after an audit found nearly 500 organs and limbs have been kept for years after suspicious death cases were solved.
The Association of Chief Police Officers found 492 major organs and limbs dating back as far as 1960 had been preserved.
The Association of Chief Police Officers found investigators "may have wrongly assumed the human tissue seized at the post-mortem had been disposed of by the medical profession or by some other means."
Deputy Chief Constable Debbie Simpson, who led the audit, said there "was no nationally agreed policy to deal with such items at the conclusion of the investigation."
Some relatives may not have been made aware that detectives had kept the remains but officers are now in the process of ``sensitively'' dealing with the human tissue, she added.
The audit found Bedfordshire Police had kept 16 body parts. Hertfordshire Police and Northamptonshire Police had each kept one.
Thames Valley Police - which covers Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire - had not kept any.
When asked whether families were aware that tissue had been retained, Ms Simpson said "it may well be a case by case basis''.
"The added trauma and upset which may have been caused to the families is difficult and we apologise for having to open up those issues for them,'' she added.