Police fail to identify man who lay dead in tent in UK for months | Society

A homeless man lay dead in a tent for up to a year before being found, police have said.

His body was discovered in August last year near Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. A driving licence, birth certificate and newspaper dated August 2016 were also found in the tent near the A370. However, efforts to trace the man’s next of kin have been unsuccessful and he has not been formally identified.

Police said they believed the man was called Peter Thomas Harrison, born in Birmingham, who was aged 59 or 60 when he died.

“We also believe he was a driver by trade and had spent recent years in and around the Weston-super-Mare area,” said Andy Henderson of Avon and Somerset police.

Peter Thomas Harrison

Police believe the man was called Peter Thomas Harrison.

“This is a really sad case of a man who appears to have been sleeping rough and whose death seems to have gone unreported.

“It would appear he had been dead for up to a year before he was found and due to the condition of the remains, it has been extremely difficult to establish for certain who he is.”

It was reported at an inquest into his death that emergency services were called to the tent at about 3.20pm on 15 August. The tent was located near homes in Bleadon Hill.

The cause of death was not established in a postmortem because of the extensive decomposition of his body. Police have released his picture in the hope that someone will come forward.

In April, the Guardian reported that the number of recorded deaths of homeless people more than doubled in five years, from 32 in 2013 to 77* in 2017. Forty deaths have been recorded so far this year. This means at least 318 homeless people have died since 2013. The average age of the rough sleepers who have died in the past five years is 43, about half the typical life expectancy in the UK.

Concerns have been raised that the government does not record the number of deaths for the UK as a whole and local authorities are not required to count the deaths of rough sleepers.

* The Guardian reported on 11 April that 31 homeless deaths were recorded in 2013 and 70 in 2017. Since publication, several local authorities have provided figures, which have been included in this piece.

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