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Repatriation of human remains

Maciej Wójtowicz made this Freedom of Information request to Durham County Council as part of a batch sent to 265 authorities

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Maciej Wójtowicz

Dear Sir or Madam


I am carrying out some research into the storage, retention and repatriation of non-European ethnological human remains held in UK regional museums or archives some of which are owned, managed or funded by UK local authorities.

To assist with this could you please let me have the following information under the Freedom of Information Act. All of these questions relate to human remains that are under 1,000 years of age. If your organisation is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act please consider supporting this research anyway and providing the information voluntarily. A link to the research will be provided to all contributers when it is published:

1. How many non-European human remains do you have in your collection or collections managed by organisations which you fund or control? If you do not have the exact number then please provide an approximation based on your normal method of counting.

2. How many human remains do you have in your collection which originated in:
a. Canada
b. New Zealand
c. Australia

3. How many requests for the repatriation of human remains have you had from communities, individuals or institutions outside of Europe since the Human Tissue Act 2004 came into force?

4. Of these requests, how many were:
a. Approved in full, with all of the requested remains being returned to the communities/individuals in question.
b. Approved in part with some of the requested remains being returned.
c. Not approved.
d. Still awaiting a decision.

5. For those requests which were not approved please provide a copy of the final decision letter setting out the reasons.

6. How many human remains have you repatriated to their country of origin proactively without receiving a request?

Thanking you in advance for your assistance with this important research project which should help to reconnect numerous Indigenous communities with their lost ancestors.

Yours faithfully

Maciej Wójtowicz

Freedom of Information, Durham County Council


This letter is our acknowledgement of your request received 7-DEC-2018. Please note the reference number in the subject line of this email and refer to it in any future correspondence. The case officer dealing with your request is:

Julie Hodgson Tel. 03000 268037

Depending on the type of request, it will be handled under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). Both of these have a statutory 20 working day deadline for a response however, in some cases, the deadline may be extended to 40 working days. The deadline for an FOIA request can be extended if an extended public interest test is required before deciding to respond. The deadline for an EIR request can be extended if the information requested is too voluminous or complex to respond to fully within the 20 day timescale. If this is the case, we will write to explain that to you.

If we hold this information, we will let you know and in most cases supply it to you. You may request a particular format for receiving the information and we will do our best to accommodate. In most cases, we will respond by email or letter in 12 point Arial font. If you have a particular need to receive the material in a different format, please let us know.

In some cases, the information you request will be exempt from disclosure. What this means is that the legislation allows the Council to refuse to provide the information. Where this occurs, we will tell you the reasons why and we will explain how to appeal that decision.

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We may also need to contact you to clarify your request. We are obliged to do this under s.16 of the Act, which refers to the duty to provide advice and assistance to applicants. When we ask to clarify your request, the 20 working day countdown stops until we hear back from you. If you have not contacted us about the request within 30 days, we will close it.
Please note that your request and our response will be put on the Council’s disclosure log. What this means is that we keep a log of all the requests and responses if anyone wants to look at them. When we put the request and response on the log, we remove the applicant’s name and any personal references. In any case, where personal information remains, it will be done in accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA).
If you have any questions or need further information, then please contact:

The Information Management Team
Durham County Council
Assistant Chief Executive’s Office
Room 4/143-148
County Hall
Tel. 03000 268038
Email: [Durham County Council request email]
Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Telephone: 01625 545 745
Fax: 01625 524 510
Email: [email address]

Yours sincerely,
The Information Management Team

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Freedom of Information, Durham County Council

1 Attachment



Dear Maciej Wojtowicz,


Please find attached our response to your Freedom of Information request.


Kind regards,


Julie Hodgson

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer

Transformation and Partnerships

Durham County Council

Room 143 - 148

County Hall



Direct Tel: 03000268037


Switchboard: 03000260000



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