Beverley News

Legacy Funeral Directors investigation: Human ashes of deceased cannot be identified

Four weeks into its investigation into Legacy Funeral Directors, after receiving a report of concern for the storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased in three premises in Hull and the East Riding, Humberside Police has issued an update.

In a statement, Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin, has confirmed that despite the best efforts of scientists and specialists, families concerned about the ashes they received will not be able to have them formally identified.

He also added that a man and a woman arrested in connection with the investigation remain on police bail.

“Firstly, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to the families, loved ones and to all of those who have been impacted since the launch of the investigation into the Legacy Funeral Directors four weeks ago,” he said.

“From the outset they have acted with dignity and patience, recognising the enormity of the task and challenges faced by investigators, and I know this cannot have been easy.

“In full consultation with the families and with His Majesty’s Coroner, extensive work continues to formally identify the 35 deceased who were recovered from the Hessle Road site.

“This is a lengthy process that has to follow the Coroner’s regulations, but when complete will provide families with complete assurance as to the identity of their loved ones and repatriation with their families.

“I remain committed to keeping bereaved families at the heart of this investigation.

“Therefore, these results will only be provided directly to them to ensure their privacy and dignity is maintained.

“Since the start of the investigation our dedicated phone line has received over 2000 calls from concerned members of the public.

“Of those a significant number were understandably concerned about the identification of the ashes of their loved ones so that repatriation with their families can take place.

“We have been working closely with forensic scientists and specialists to assess whether it was possible to extract DNA from the human ashes in order to identify them.

“Whilst the expert opinion provides us with assurance that the proper crematorium process had been followed; unfortunately, given the high temperature required to carry out a cremation, the DNA will have been broken down and degraded to such a level, that we would not be able to recover a meaningful DNA profile.

“This means that we are unable to identify any of the human ashes. This will, of course, be devastating news for families and loved ones and you have my heartfelt condolences at this difficult time.

“This weekend officers from the investigation team have been in contact with over 700 families to update them regarding the scientific advice and offer support.

“Our specially trained Family Liaison Officers continue to support and update the families of the 35 deceased and we have also been in contact with a number of families regarding the ashes recovered from the premises.

“In addition we have had a number of calls that relate to suspected financial and fraudulent activity.

“I have dedicated, specialist investigation teams carrying out numerous enquiries and following up on various leads and information.

“If you have concerns over a funeral plan that you or a loved one have taken out, please contact and speak to your insurance provider in the first instance and establish if the policy is legitimate or not.

“If not, please report it to the police by calling the non-emergency number 101 or via the Humberside Police website.

“I can confirm that a man and a woman remain on police bail in connection to the investigation.

“We must remember that, at the core of this investigation are heartbroken, devastated families and loved ones.

“I recognise that this has been a difficult and distressing time for those involved, and there is no doubt that the impact has been felt across our communities.

“You will continue to have questions, and I want to offer my reassurance that we will release updates on any significant developments as and when we are able.

“But we do need to be mindful not to jeopardise ongoing investigations and I ask that people refrain from speculating and continue to show the utmost respect for the privacy of those bereaved families within our community.”

Providing an update from East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Director of Housing, Transportation and Public Protection, Angela Dearing said: “As a consequence of this police investigation our public protection teams, along with our partners from Hull City Council have visited every funeral director operating in our area.

“Over three weeks we have visited 50 premises to review compliance with health and safety regulations, operational procedures and care of the deceased, and to offer support and advice to businesses.

“While the sector is not formally regulated nationally, the visits were an opportunity for us to look at a number of key areas of funeral directors’ business.

“These voluntary visits were conducted in partnership with funeral directors, in order to give reassurances to customers and our local funeral directors.

“All the businesses we visited were receptive if any advice or suggestions were made.

“It is very clear from our visits that the ongoing incident at Legacy Independent Funeral Directors is in no way typical of the funeral industry in our area.

“We would like to thank all the funeral businesses for their cooperation, professionalism and for their support of these visits and we hope this highlights the commitment funeral directors in our area have in upholding best practices and to serving the needs of the community.”

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