Animals snatched baby's body from London grave

Wild animals are thought to have snatched the body of a baby from a mass grave, police said today.

The newborn baby's remains had been buried with up to 12 other infants in Battersea New Cemetery, south London.



An investigation was launched after the grave was disturbed and it was realised the boy's body was missing.



Wandsworth council, which runs the cemetery, said it had apologised to the baby's family but insisted it had acted "in line" with national burial guidelines.



Details of the case, reported to police on September 29, only emerged today.



"We were deeply shocked and dismayed to learn of this awful discovery last year and sent the family our deepest condolences and sympathies," said a Wandsworth council spokesman.



"We also met with them to personally say how sorry we were that this tragedy had happened.



"The burial was arranged and paid for by a local hospital which chose the type of burial required. In line with standard practice across the country for this type of burial, the coffin was covered with at least 18 inches of soil and the grave itself was fully covered over by a large heavy wooden board to keep it secure.



"As a result of this dreadful event, we have changed our procedures and now use a lockable metal cover so that this cannot happen again."



A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the boy's remains were never recovered, despite a search of the area.



"It appears the grave was disturbed by wild animals," he said.



London Councils, which represents the capital's 33 authorities, said there was "very limited space" available at cemeteries.



"Local authorities are fully aware that arranging any type of burial is an emotional and traumatic experience for families, and they take their responsibilities extremely seriously," he said.



"However, councils are faced with balancing accommodating everyone's wishes and the very limited space available in the capital's cemeteries. Each borough has its own policy and we would not attempt to interfere with that."



The Local Government Association said a survey based on information from 116 councils estimated 4,900 funerals were carried out by authorities in 2007/08.



The average cost of a funeral is expected to be £944, resulting in an estimated bill of more than £4 million to the taxpayer.



Public health funerals, also known as paupers' funerals, are arranged when no one else is willing to pay, the LGA said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Manager / New Product Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company mission is to be th...

Recruitment Genius: Software Tester

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Tester is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The Company sells mobile video advertising sol...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have a vacancy within our ra...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project