Seafield baby: Police bid to identify body

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DETECTIVES are trawling the council’s list of at-risk babies in a bid to identify the infant remains found on a path next to Seafield Crematorium.

Hundreds of children are on the child protection register, including unborn babies flagged up by social workers while still in the womb.

Police attend the scene by Seafield Crematorium. Picture: Greg Macvean

Police attend the scene by Seafield Crematorium. Picture: Greg Macvean

Officers believe the register may yield a vital clue in finding the baby’s mother, who they are urgently trying to trace following the grim discovery by a dog walker on Sunday evening.

Detectives are also contacting NHS staff to see whether any new or expectant mothers displayed behaviour at a ­hospital or doctor’s surgery which raised suspicions.

Detective Chief Inspector David McLaren, who is leading the inquiry, confirmed that checks with social workers and health chiefs were part of his ongoing investigation.

He said: “Obviously there is a mother out there who may be in need of some sort of ­medical assistance or emotional support. Our main focus is to establish that she is OK.

“In terms of expectant or new mothers, the immediate focus will be in the local area.

“If any family members, friends or neighbours noticed someone who was pregnant and is now without baby, we would ask them to come

forward.”

Police cordoned off the area as forensic officers carried out an examination yesterday, a process which may last several days. Part of the crematorium’s cemetery directly below the footpath was cordoned off while an officer stood guard. The remains were found in undergrowth, which DCI McLaren said made them “not overtly visible” from Restalrig Path, a tree-lined route popular with dog walkers and cyclists.

He said the baby was “potentially” only weeks old, and was “nearer to being a newborn than a toddler”, but could not be more specific on the age while tests continued.

He said he could not reveal the sex or race of the child as his team’s inquiries were still at an “early stage”.

He added that it was difficult to say how long the remains might have been at the spot, but said it was likely they’d been there “for at least some time”.

The horror discovery has shocked people living and working nearby.

Bill Neish, 75, who owns the Seafield Services garage located underneath the pathway on Seafield Place, said: “It’s hard to believe something like this could happen. The mother must be devastated.”

Frank Fielding, 65, a retired auction house worker, lives in Seafield Road close to where the discovery was made. He said: “It’s a really horrendous thing to happen. I don’t know whether the person who left the baby was trying to leave the remains near the cemetery as the path overlooks it.”

In August last year, it was revealed that more than 1800 referrals to Edinburgh’s child protection register were made in the previous 12 months.

NHS Lothian said: “We would actively encourage the mother to seek help.”