Family liaison

Dated: 6 August 2021

POLICY TITLE: Family Liaison

OWNING DIRECTORATE: Crime and Safeguarding

AUTHOR: Detective Chief Inspector, Complex Abuse, Crime Department





AIM OF POLICY: To provide information to, and facilitate care and support for, the family who are themselves victims, in a sensitive and compassionate way in accordance with the needs of the investigation.

BENEFIT OF POLICY: The application of this policy will ensure that the family who are themselves victims, are cared for and supported in a sensitive and compassionate way.

REASON FOR POLICY: To provide information in regard to the consideration of how to provide support to the family.

Northumbria Police has a positive duty to uphold the right to life imposed by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. It also has a duty to investigate death. One of the most important considerations throughout the investigation of a death is providing professional, timely and accountable support to the family of the deceased that complies with the Victims’ Charter and their individual needs and circumstances.

Northumbria Police will manage liaison with families having regard to their rights in respect of:

Article 5 - Right to Security and Liberty;
Article 6 - Right to a Fair Trial;
Article 8 - Right to Respect for Private and Family Life; and
Article 9 - Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion.

Article 1 of the First Protocol: Protection of Property.

Families will be considered as partners in an investigation and treated appropriately, professionally, with respect and in accordance with their diverse needs.

Family liaison will be used where there is a violent or unexplained death, particularly in respect of:

  • Homicide;
  • Road death occurring in a ‘special category road traffic collision’ as defined in the procedure on investigating fatal and serious collisions; and
  • Mass fatality emergencies to fulfil the needs of the police investigation.

The deployment of Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) will also be considered in instances of drugs related deaths, work-related deaths, joint Police and Health and Safety Executive investigations, and deaths which require a police investigation on behalf of Her Majesty’s (HM) Coroner.

Where a decision is made not to deploy FLOs in such cases then the officer in charge (OIC) will ensure that effective provision is in place to provide bereaved family members the appropriate level of support and access to information, in compliance with the Prosecution Support Victims and Witnesses, Victim Contact Contracts and The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales. This will include the identification of a single point of contact to perform this liaison function. In cases where the single point of contact is the Coroner's Officer then the OIC will ensure that they are kept up to date with the progress of the investigation.

The use of FLOs should be considered in other investigations which do not involve fatality where it is felt that their use might enhance the effectiveness of the police response, for example, hate crime or managing critical incidents that effect confidence in the police.

The aim of family liaison is to:

  • Analyse the needs, concerns and expectations of the family in order to identify relevant and realistic action that should be taken in the context of their human rights and the police professional obligations.
  • Work with the family in order to comply with their right to receive information connected with the enquiry, subject to the needs of the investigation, while seeking to gather intelligence, information and evidence from them which will assist the investigation.

In order to achieve these aims the objectives of family liaison are:

  • Gather material from the family (and conduct Victimology) in a manner that contributes to the investigation and preserves its integrity.
  • Provide information to, and facilitate care and support for, the family, who are themselves victims, in a sensitive and compassionate manner in accordance with the needs of the investigation.
  • Build the confidence and trust of the family, thereby enhancing their contribution to the investigation

Family liaison will be overseen by a Detective Chief Inspector with portfolio responsibility. Family Liaison Coordinator's will be identified to coordinate delivery within Crime Department, Area Commands and Force Resilience Unit (FRU). The family liaison strategy and risk assessments for individual investigations will be the responsibility of the Senior Investigating Officer or Investigating Officer, albeit day to day management will be handled by a trained FLO or advisors. Area Commanders and the Head of FRU will ensure that adequate numbers of FLOs are trained and resourced.


GROUPS AFFECTED: All police officers and staff


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