What is the purpose of such a facility?
The purpose of a facility like this would be to conduct forensic research into the decomposition process on human cadavers in a variety of environmental settings and scenarios. This would result in increased accuracy in estimating time since death, which could help solve numerous criminal cases. Other research into locating buried remains, the degradation of materials and DNA in different environments could also be carried out.

How would an HTF be funded?
It is expected that such a facility would be not-for-profit. Possibly, it could funded by a university, public donations or donations from beneficiaries. Partners and researchers wishing to use the facility would pay a contribution towards the running costs.

Would it be safe and secure?
Yes, to ensure no sensitive material enters or leaves the facility there would be a network of security measures including guards, fences, and CCTV. All visitors to the site would have to be authorised.

Where would the bodies come from?
Bodies donated for the purposes of forensic research at the HTF would be received through a donation program in the same way that they are in an anatomy school. Bequests would be made by donors giving their full, informed consent before death, and this would have to be agreed by their next of kin.

Would the bodies be in view of the public?
No, in the interest of maintaining the anonymity and dignity of the donors as well as keeping any potentially disturbing or upsetting sights out of view, the facility would be surrounded by a high perimeter fence. There would be another, internal fence surrounding the research areas.

Who would be able to donate?
Once a body donation program is established, it will be possible for anyone interested to enquire about body donation. Full informed consent would need to be obtained from the potential donor. There would be fewer restrictions on donation to an HTF than to a medical/anatomy school.

Who would be using the facility?
The facility would be used by a number of different academics and forensic practitioners including anthropologists, entomologists, pathologists, geologists, archaeologists, victim remains recovery dogs and their trainers, the police, Disaster Victim Identification teams and many more.

Where would such a facility be located?
A site for an HTF has not been finalised. It would have to be in a rural environment away from people's houses. 

Why is an HTF necessary now?
Forensic scientists and investigators have always needed laboratories in which to do rigorous experiments. Research from the HTF at the University of Tennessee in the USA has been used to help criminal cases since the 1980's. So, the need for an HTF in the UK is not new. However, in the last ten years, people have been recognising the benefits of HTFs, and more have been opening all over the world. Public awareness and acceptance of these facilities is increasing every day. There has never been a better time for the UK to establish an HTF. 

I would like to bequeath my body to such a facility. What shall I do?
Thank you very much for your interest in donating your body for the benefit of others. Unfortunately, at the moment, before an HTF is established in the UK, the only way you can donate your body to science is through an anatomy/medical school. More information about that process can be found here. However, please email Dr Anna Williams with your information, and she will add your name to the growing list of potential donors. You will receive relevant information as soon as an HTF is established in the UK. 


  1. What will happen to the remains once the facility has finished with them?

  2. The donor would get the chance to stipulate what happened to his/her remains at the end of the research period. The donor could choose to donate to the facility's osteological collection or for the next of kin to bury the remains or be cremated...whatever the donor wishes.