How did the police manage to lose a bomb?
It seems incredible that evidence connected to the terrorist atrocity could have gone missing, even in the less sophisticated era of policing of the 1970s and 1980s.
The Birmingham pub bombings were a horrendous crime that remains unsolved.
The bomb found behind a branch of Barclays Bank, destroyed in a controlled explosion, is part of dozens of pieces of evidence to have been misplaced after the wrongful conviction of six men almost 40 years ago.
Of all the evidence that needed to be handled with the utmost care, the pieces concerning the deaths of 21 people and the injury of 182 should have been under lock and key.
Developments in forensic technology now mean that were the bomb still in the possession of West Midlands Police, it could now be examined to see if any trace of the identity of the terrorists were present.
It is another chapter in the farce that started with the discredited and now disbanded West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, which was accused of mishandling the case.
The bomb was believed to have been disposed of around 10 years after the explosions, while Birmingham Six were serving the jail sentences that they were fighting to quash.
We have every sympathy with the families who lost loved ones in 1974 and have been confronted with this embarrassing admission as their fight for justice may be considered to he have turned down a blind alley.
They have never been given the answers they sought over the final hours of loved ones who had only been in the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs for a night out when they were murdered. Many of those young people should be parents or even grandparents themselves by now.
It is important to remember that the current chief constable Chris Sims is just the bearer of bad news here.
He has been left carrying the can for the mistakes made long before his tenure.
Mr Sims is now walking the tightrope of needing to be open and honest with the families while also playing close to his chest the cards he holds that could help finally answer their questions.
He describes the decades since the bombings as an ‘open wound’ for the police.
The revelation of the loss of potentially vital evidence rubs salt in that wound.