Shoulder tattoos

A bit of a PSA/editorial: I wish missing persons databases would be more clear about shoulder tattoos. Because when they say “so-and-so has a tattoo on his shoulder” that could mean a lot of things. “Shoulder tattoo” is not necessarily inaccurate, it’s just vague. It’s nearly as vague as saying someone has a tattoo on their leg. Which part of the leg: knee? Ankle? Thigh? Calf? Except that, unlike with leg tattoos, vagueness in the description of shoulder tattoos can often lead to missed opportunities for identifying the dead.

I provide examples of four different locations I can think of (all images stolen from Pinterest): the front of the shoulder aka the collarbone, the top of the shoulder, the side of the shoulder aka the upper arm, and the shoulder blade aka the upper back. To assist with people attempting to identify bodies it would be nice if the exact location of the shoulder tattoo is specified. Like, if someone searched a database for people with a tattoo on the upper back, they might miss someone entirely because the UID details listed the tattoo as being on the shoulder.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I updated a case where a guy had a tattoo that was listed as being on his shoulder. Turned out to be upper arm part of his shoulder. I was able to update the case with that information, plus a photo of the tattoo. I love it when I get photos of MPs’ tattoos. Though in one case I had a job figuring it out because the MP was a tattoo artist who happened to have a lot of tattoos himself, and looking at his personal Facebook page, it was hard to determine which tattoos were on his own body and which were merely examples of his work on others.