Skip diving is a popular hobby and members of all social classes seem to indulge. Skip hire contracts and bye-laws place obligations on users not to leave hazardous materials in skips unless by special arrangement, but that does not make them safe places to rummage.

Mepal Cambridgeshire 2016

One of the most gruesome finds was certainly that of a decomposing severed head in a skip delivered to a disposal site off the A142 between Ely and Chatteris. Police investigations led back to a bridge renovation in Bedfordshire. How the head came to be amongst bridge debris remains unanswered, but one suggestion is that it could have been lodged in the structure for decades following a collision with a train on the track beneath.  Identifying the body would require more than just your typical AML identity checks offered by businesses like as they would have little to go off.

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Other Shocking Skip Finds

Something that might just beat a severed head for shock value was the discovery of a two-week-old baby girl in a skip in Patong, Thailand. Fortunately, the abandoned child was spotted while still in good health.

Other gruesome finds have included two plastic urns of human ashes in a skip in Motherwell, and two coffins in a skip in Norwich. The ashes were mistakenly binned during a house clearance and returned to the grateful family. The coffins were surplus display items discarded by an undertaker – and fortunately unoccupied.

More likely to transport you to the grave would have been the live World War II artillery shell left in a skip near a petrol station in Cornwall in 2006.

Skip Diving and the Law

Property does not cease to belong to anyone when it is placed in a skip or dustbin, however the Theft Act of 1968 leaves some ambiguity – see paragraph 2 of the “definition of theft”. Many skip users are pleased to have extra space made available and some actively encourage recycling for environmental reasons, but a few see it as a violation of privacy so always ask permission.

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Skip hire and waste recycling firms can also be disadvantaged by the removal of items with a recycling value that could help subsidise the environmental services they provide.

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