I came a cross an article today that both shocked and saddened me.
Police files across the UK contain details of 1,000 unidentified bodies, some of them, apparently, dating back more than 50 years.
According to the article on the BBC website thee unidentified people include a young man whose body was found hanging in secluded woodlands near Hartlepool in 1981. Although foul play wasn’t suspected, it could not be ruled out and so the police have kept the file open for all these years in the hope that someone will, one day, come forward and identify the mystery young man.
Another unidentified corpse is that of the badly decomposed lower portion of the body of a man aged between 55 and 65 that was washed up on the banks of the River Wear in 1982.
Then there was the woman, aged between 17 and 25, who was struck by a car on the A1 in Hertfordshire at 0615am on 18th February 1975.
She had been seen by witnesses 45 minutes previous and had told them that she was heading for London. These witnesses told police that the woman had a foreign accent, but nothing else is known about her.
The oldest case mentioned dates back to 1970 and concerns a badly decomposed body that was washed up at Redcar. It was in such a bad state that the gender of the person could not be ascertained, and the age could have been anything from 21 to 100. The only possible clue, and even that wasn’t very much to go on, was a black boot that was well preserved but not very distinctive.
The problem faced by the police, according to one officer was that “…they can have been there a long time, and have travelled some distance…”
The sad thing is that all these unidentified individuals will all have families somewhere who will probably be missing them and wondering what happened to them.
It just goes to show that, even in this age of mass state surveillance and social media, it i still possible for individuals to slip through the net and end up as mere statistics on official files, their disappearances, perhaps, lamented by loved ones who may never know what became of a beloved son, daughter, husband, wife, father or mother, sister or brother.