well as engaging in public consultations, has worked well in both the FAC and AFTER to get the public ‘on
If necessary the research can start slowly to get the public used to the idea. For example, the first
research projects could involve either leaving the donor’s bodies on the surface without being subjected
to post mortem trauma, or perhaps having them all buried in order to monitor decomposition in different
soils. This would be similar to the Amsterdam facility mentioned in the introduction, with the intention of
moving on to eventual research on bodies on the surface.
Choosing a Site
It is very important to decide on the ideal site for the body farm, in part because it is important that it is
only accessible by those who have a legitimate need to be there. The donor’s in the FAC and AFTER are
treated with the utmost dignity, and part of this is ensuring that only researchers or other relevant people
have access to the sites.
Security of the site is paramount. Fences need to be high enough to stop casual access or views into the
site. It is also useful to have the site far away from residential areas. The FAC and AFTER are both sited in
wooded areas which also controls what can be seen from the air. They are both also in restricted air
space, meaning that there can be no overflights without express permission. I would suggest that an area
that is already controlled by the military or the government would work well for this control.
Preparing the Site
Once the site has been chosen it is important to set it up correctly. I would recommend that the area be
surveyed before any remains are deposited, in order to find the background composition of the soil and
surrounding area. It would also be useful to do studies to see how far decomposition fluids may leech in
the soil so that the plot sizes can be decided on.
There needs to be a way of separating the ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas of the site. People need to be able to
access the outer areas - for example, bodies will have to be transported to the site and there needs to be
somewhere private where these bodies can be deposited before they are then moved into the ‘dirty’
area; the research area. It is a good idea to have refrigerated storage in this area to keep the bodies
preserved until they can be used.
The set up in AFTER seems to be a good method of separation - a person has to physically climb up and
down steps to go between the 2 areas, before going through a second gate and putting on the
appropriate PPE. There are also bins there for the disposal of the used PPE when a person is leaving the
A weather station on site is a good idea to add further information to the research being conducted - the
temperature, wind speed, and humidity can all have an effect on decomposition and should be recorded
Management of the Site
Most research done in body farms is led by academics; it would therefore seem appropriate that overall
management of the facility is by academics from a particular University’s Anthropology Department. Most
of the funding for the facility should also probably come from University funding, as this seems to work
well in the other HTFs. Partner agencies, such as Police Services or the Home Office, could also
contribute funding towards the facility, which would give them access to the site. In the AFTER facility this
was a one off fee, but I would suggest that a yearly payment would be better in order to help with the
ongoing running costs.
Partner agencies should also be involved in a Project Management Committee, as is the case in Sydney.
This committee can help with drawing up standard operating procedures, and quality assurance, as well
as deciding on the most appropriate research projects to run on the site.