Funeral firm to probe ‘shocking’ practices

The UK’s biggest funeral company has launched an inquiry following allegations that dead bodies were being stored like “television sets” in a warehouse.

Former funeral ombudsman Professor Geoffrey Woodroffe described the practices employed by Co-operative Funeralcare as “shocking” after watching the footage obtained for the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary.

They secretly filmed staff working in a so-called “hub”, a warehouse situated on an industrial estate off a busy motorway. It said the building contained a large refrigerated area where racks of bodies were stored ahead of funerals, with some corpses just centimetres apart from each other.

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Prof Woodroffe said: “I had no idea that they’re treating people as if they’re stacking television sets really. I’d hate to think that a member of my family would have been treated in that way. No, I find it shocking.”

When families asked to see their loved ones, the body would be taken back to the funeral home, a journey of up to 30 miles, according to the documentary.

A Co-operative Funeralcare spokesman said they were yet to see the programme, but added: “We do not believe that the instances shown in the programme are representative of our many caring staff.

“We have, however, launched an immediate investigation into the programme’s findings and will take any action necessary to ensure our high standards and our policy of enabling clients to make informed choices is maintained. We will also seek the independent views of the National Association of Funeral Directors on these issues.

“We will not tolerate any individual actions which undermine the professionalism and commitment shown by our staff to the bereaved on a daily basis.”