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22 May 2012, 12:01 | Updated: 22 May 2012, 12:04
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.
Hertfordshire Constabulary are among the forces found to have been doing this.
The Association of Chief Police Officers found across the country, 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 Hertfordshire Constabulary had kept one limb or organ. Neighbouring force Bedfordshire Police had kept 16.
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.