Articles Tagged ‘police - Brake the road safety charity’

Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, June 2007

june07Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland
Alistair Carmichael MP is campaigning to stop the horrifying number of deaths and injuries caused by drink-drivers in the UK. Throughout June, he raised awareness of the problem in Parliament and through the media, urging the Government to lower the drink-drive limit and increase the number of dedicated roads policing officers enforcing the law.

Alistair gathered information through Parliamentary questions, finding that:

  • the number of people killed in drink-drive crashes has risen by 26%, from 460 in 1999 to 580 in 2004 (Hansard, 19 Jun 2007 : Column 1776W)
  • there was a 35% rise in the number of people convicted of ‘causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs’ between 1999 and 2004. The number shot up from 46 to 62 in just five years (Hansard, 25 Jun 2007 : Column 342W)
  • the number of women found guilty of drink or drug driving has risen by 58% in the last 10 years, from 6,793 in 1995 to 10,765 in 2004. The number of men found guilty of drink or drug driving fell slightly (from 85,693 in 1995 to 85,473 in 2004) but remains much higher than the number of women (Hansard, 20 Jun 2007 : Column 1956W)
  • a total of 577,600 breath tests were carried out in 2004 (Hansard, 22 May 2007 : Column 1246W)

Alistair worked with press to gain support and momentum for his campaign. After issuing a press release to highlight the topic, Alistair and the Liberal Democrats were featured commenting on drink-driving in many national papers, including the Independent.

Alistair’s campaign coincided with road safety minister Stephen Ladyman’s announcement at a conference that the Government was considering cutting the legal alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, in line with EC recommendations and the vast majority of EU countries. The Liberal Democrats have actively campaigned for this change since adopting this measure as a party policy several years ago. Following the minister’s announcement, Alistair stepped up his campaign, urging a lower drink-drive limit and to calling for more police officers on the roads to enforce the law. He also issued a press release on this topic.

Brake’s website has more information and advice on drink-driving.

Brake backs European Day Without A Road Death

Tuesday 20 September
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, is asking all road users to play their part in the first “European Day Without A Road Death”, otherwise known as Project EDWARD, on Wednesday 21 September.

The project is supported by all 30 members of TISPOL, the European Traffic Police Network, and will highlight all the work being done by organisations to try and halve the number of road deaths in the EU by 2020.

It is hoped that Project EDWARD will encourage all road users to reflect on their behaviour and attitude, as this remains one of the most important barriers to lowering road deaths.

Brake, though, believes more can be done than just focusing on driver behaviour. Strong legislation and leadership from authorities and governments can play a much more vital part, for example the UK government bringing back casualty reduction targets, banning all mobile phone use in cars and introducing a zero tolerance drink-drive limit.

In 2015 1,732 people died on the roads in Great Britain and 22,137 more were seriously injured . A reintroduction of ambitious casualty reduction targets, axed in 2010, would be a key first step in an urgently needed fightback against road crashes, alongside a ‘vision zero’ approach that acknowledges that any road death is unacceptable.

There also needs to be more investment in safer systems to ensure that human error doesn’t cost lives, and that those who might wilfully endanger others through such acts as speeding and drink-driving are deterred by effective enforcement campaigns.

Alice Bailey, campaigns advisor for Brake, said: “Striving for zero road deaths is an ambitious but necessary long-term target. Preventable crashes tear apart families and communities and we should not accept any number. We must also acknowledge that the traffic causing these tragedies is a major contributor to carbon emissions, affecting the well-being and health of individuals and the planet. We should aspire to a world where governments, communities and companies work together to achieve zero road deaths and serious injuries, and streets that can be used without fear.”

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

More on Project Edward here: https://www.tispol.org/edward

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, servicesfor road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on Twitter, Facebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

 

Brake backs Police Federation plea for lower drink drive limit and calls for greater priority for life-saving roads policing

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has given its strong backing to calls made today (19 May 2015) by the Police Federation – the staff association for all police constables, sergeants and inspectors in England and Wales – for a lower drink drive limit, following evidence from Scotland that the lower limit introduced there last year has led to a marked reduction in drink driving rates [1].

The call is being made at the Police Federation’s annual conference, being held in Bournemouth this week. The Police Federation is also highlighting what it calls the “unprecedented cuts” suffered by roads policing units in the last five years, leaving them unable to properly enforce life-saving road safety laws [2].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Brake agrees with the Police Federation that the UK drink drive limit – one of the highest in Europe – needs to be lowered. We would like to see an effective zero-tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood. This would make it clear that even small amounts of alcohol affect your ability to drive safely, and end the widespread confusion over whether it’s safe and acceptable to have one or two drinks and drive. Research is clear that even very small amounts of alcohol impair, hence it should always be ‘none for the road’ – not a drop.

“Brake also echoes the Police Federation’s concern over the severe cuts that have been made to roads policing in recent years, which have been disproportionally heavier than cuts to other areas of policing. Given that enhanced traffic policing offers a huge return on investment and a way to avert needless casualties and suffering, this makes no rational, moral or economic sense. Brake urges the government to make traffic policing a national priority and give officers the backing and resources they need to do their job.”

Brake campaigns for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit through its not a drop, not a drag campaign, and for prioritised police traffic enforcement through its crackdown campaign. Tweet us @Brakecharity, #notadrop, #crackdown.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] Charity welcomes reduction in Scotland’s drink driving rates, Brake, 9 January 2015

[2] Women’s drink driving comes under scrutiny, Police Federation, 19 May 2015

Brake calls for urgent investment in road policing after huge drop in drivers caught on mobiles

news@brake.org.uk

28 September 2016

New figures revealed by the BBC after a freedom of information request show that the number of people caught using phones at the wheel has dropped from 177,900 to 93,606 between 2011-12 and 2015-16. That is a reduction of almost 40%. The majority of the decrease has been seen in the last two years.

The Police Federation says the number of dedicated road traffic officers has been hugely reduced over the last few years.  There has been a 23% reduction in the number of full-time equivalent traffic police officers from 5,635 in 2010 to 4,356 in 2014. Reductions have been experienced in 41 of the 43 forces. (Full breakdown of police forces available here in a response to a Written Question Jack Dromey MP, responded to on 2 Feb 2015).

The government recently confirmed plans to double fines and penalty points for using a phone behind the wheel, but without sufficient officers to enforce this, Brake is concerned even the new tougher penalties may not be seen as a real deterrent.

21 police forces (see table in notes to editors below) saw their conviction rate drop by more than half and just two police forces have seen the numbers of people caught increase in that period: Norfolk and West Yorkshire.

Alice Bailey, communications and campaigns advisor for Brake, said: “It would be wonderful to think this drop is down to people getting the message about the dangers of mobile phone use, but sadly we don’t think this is the case. A recent report called mobile use behind the wheel 'an epidemic', with our own studies showing more than half of drivers in some age groups admit they still use a phone while driving. As our police forces have faced major budget reductions, road traffic officers have too often been seen as a soft option for cuts. They are an essential part of the service and save lives. As the government brings in tougher new penalties for this crime, it must make sure it resources our police forces properly so this is a real deterrent.” 

ENDS.

NOTES TO EDITORS

             

Essex, Northumbria and Gwent declined to respond

         

Cleveland, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire failed to respond in time

       

Leicestershire is calendar year rather than financial year

       

Wiltshire figures only include penalty points or progressed to court

     
                   
     

How many drivers were caught using their mobile phones while driving

                   
     

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

   

AVON/SOMERSET

 

1756

1371

1134

1060

854

   

BEDFORDSHIRE

 

1607

1421

1250

989

730

   

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

 

2268

2998

2840

2476

1828

   

CHESHIRE

   

3935

2677

3296

2277

2062

   

CITY OF LONDON

 

514

348

229

277

340

   

CUMBRIA

   

1383

1129

953

833

634

   

DERBYSHIRE

 

1523

1016

1311

1273

1217

   

DORSET

   

3539

2186

1531

1214

925

 

**

DURHAM

   

881

651

552

417

398

   

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

 

1124

868

889

790

857

   

GREATER MANCHESTER

7605

9140

4534

3024

2885

   

HAMPSHIRE

 

5936

5372

5479

6272

4986

   

HERTFORDSHIRE

 

3389

3425

3613

2743

1652

   

HUMBERSIDE

 

2934

2510

1557

1188

1137

   

KENT

   

4496

2747

1404

822

723

   

LANCASHIRE

 

6029

4774

2559

971

1093

   

LEICESTERSHIRE

 

1567

1324

1410

1209

653

 

**

LINCOLNSHIRE

 

1810

1473

1686

1405

1042

   

MERSEYSIDE

 

5772

4399

3615

4043

2490

   

MET

   

30923

28150

28045

23036

19610

   

NORFOLK

   

1935

1586

1022

836

2287

   

NORTH YORKSHIRE

 

2215

1412

998

786

702

   

NORTHANTS

 

1410

1110

794

658

489

   

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

 

3743

2690

2233

1640

1374

   

SURREY

   

3854

2655

2597

2339

1646

   

SUSSEX

   

5981

4268

2474

1846

1424

   

THAMES VALLEY

 

11221

11845

10668

10853

10103

   

WARWICKS

 

918

979

773

646

750

   

WEST MERCIA

 

2564

2565

3067

2235

2336

   

WEST MIDLANDS

 

6694

4100

2684

2140

2818

   

WEST YORKSHIRE

 

1335

4489

4741

2453

3107

   

WILTSHIRE

 

2008

1462

1372

664

412

 

**

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

9561

8420

7849

7193

6550

   

SCOTLAND

 

28311

30243

35732

17922

10061

   

DYFED POWYS

 

2603

2590

2488

1254

1493

   

NORTH WALES

 

1599

1800

1570

1518

1058

   

SOUTH WALES

 

2957

1985

1274

1316

880

   
                   

TOTAL

   

177900

162178

150223

112618

93606

   

YR ON YEAR FALL

   

8.8

7.4

25

16.9

   

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes.

Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week.

Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs. 

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.



Brake comments on "deeply troubling" figures showing increase in deaths on Scotland's roads

News from Brake
14 June 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Transport Scotland has today released provisional headline figures for road casualties reported to the police in Scotland in 2016, showing 191 people were killed in reported crashes in 2016 - 23 more than in 2015.

Commenting on the news, Jason Wakeford, spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Today's figures are deeply troubling. It's shocking to see more fatalities on Scotland's roads last year, and more children, cyclists and motorcyclists needlessly losing their lives.

"Today's statistics show that, while progress is being made toward some of the 2020 Scottish Road Safety Framework targets, there is far more work to be done.

"We must strive for a vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads. We urge the Scottish Government to implement a default 20mph limit in built up areas, accompanied by additional speed enforcement on roads by the police.

"Brake is also calling on the European Commission to urgently update new vehicle safety standards and the UK Government to set up a Road Collision Investigation Branch. Understanding and collating the details of individual road crashes and the circumstances that led to them is critical, to enable lessons to be learned and help prevent future deaths across the country." 

[Ends]

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake comments on call for zero-tolerance approach to speeding and tougher penalties for those caught

 
News from Brake
Monday, 31 January 2018
 
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham has called for the 10 per cent buffer on speed limits to be scrapped and for an increase in the use of fines and penalty points for those caught.
 
Commenting on the news, Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “Speed limits are exactly that, limits, set at the top speed that it is safe to drive on any particular road. Drivers who go beyond these limits are behaving recklessly and endangering the lives of themselves and others. Brake wholeheartedly supports Chief Constable Anthony Bangham’s view that a zero-tolerance approach to speeding is required, sending a clear signal that breaking the law is not acceptable.
 
“Speeding penalties must prove an effective deterrent and Brake supports Chief Constable Bangham’s call for the increased use of fines and penalty points. Public perception over the acceptability of speeding needs to change and this can only happen with clarity in the law and penalties which truly deter offending.
 
“The speed of a vehicle is the key factor determining the severity of injury caused in any road crash; faster speeds mean greater stopping distances and more forceful impacts [1]. In 2016, there were five deaths a day on our roads on average [2], this is a truly shocking figure and any intervention which helps put an end to these needless tragedies should be welcomed."
 
[ENDS]
 
Notes to editors
 
 
 
About Brake
 
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
 
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake comments on figures showing only half of fixed cameras actively catching speeding drivers

News from Brake
Saturday, 4 November 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Only about half of fixed speed cameras in the UK are actually switched on and catching offenders, figures obtained by the Press Association indicate. Data released by 36 of the 45 police forces in the UK found that four have no fixed speed cameras at all and 13 have fewer than half actively catching speeding drivers.

Commenting on the new figures, Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "A staggering 1,800 people lost their lives on British roads last year and speeding is a factor many crashes. Speed cameras are a proven, cost-effective way of reducing deadly collisions and so it's critical they are operational. We are concerned to see figures which suggest so many are switched off and would urge they are urgently put back into action."

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.

We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake comments on week-long police crackdown on phone use whilst driving

News from Brake
Monday, 22 January 2018
 
Starting on Monday 22 January, police forces across England and Wales are engaged in a week-long national operation, cracking down on drivers using their phones behind the wheel.
 
Commenting on the news, Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:“Phone use behind the wheel is an increasing menace on our roads, nearly halving reaction times and posing a serious threat to lives of other road users [1]. No call or message is worth a life and Brake is calling upon all drivers to put their phones away in the glovebox, out of reach.
 
“This week’s crackdown on mobile phone use whilst driving is to be welcomed. Drivers should have the expectation that if they use a phone behind the wheel, they will be caught. However, this can only be delivered through a more concerted and long-term police enforcement effort.
 
“Shockingly, research has shown that hands-free calls cause almost the same level of risk whilst driving as hand-held - last year a driver using a hands-free device was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving [2]. Brake urges government to regulate against hands-free phone use at the wheel, ridding our roads of the menace of distracted driving.”
 
[ENDS]
 
Notes to editors:
 
[1] Conversations in cars: the relative hazards of mobile phones, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)
 
Brake’s campaign page ‘Phone Smart’ can be found here and further information on driver distraction here.
 
About Brake
 
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
 
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake echoes police calls, warning young people of dangers of drink and drug driving

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has praised police for their efforts to catch drink and drug drivers over the festive period but has expressed concern that a significant minority of drivers – especially among the younger age group – are continuing to endanger lives.

An increasingly intelligence-led approach by officers resulted in fewer breath tests this year, down to 133,996, but a higher rate of drivers testing positive, with 5,885, or 4.39%, failing breath testsaccording to figures released by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Among these, 28,228 under-25s were tested, with a 6.33% failure rate, compared to 3.94% of over-25s. 

Brake is warning there is still a long way to go to stamp out the menace of drink and drug driving throughout the year. According to a Brake and Direct Line survey, many continue to take the deadly risk of driving after drinking and many feel unable to speak out to stop others doing it [1].

Brake also warns that many who pass the breath test could be unsafe to drive due to the England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s high drink drive limit. Scotland reduced its drink drive limit on 5 December 2014, to 50mg per 100ml of blood. Brake is renewing its calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml blood. See calls for action below and the facts on why it should be none for the road.

Brake is also urging the government to give greater priority to traffic policing and ensure sufficient resourcing is available for vital drink and drug driving enforcement, following significant cuts [2], and especially ahead of a new drug drive law coming into force in England and Wales on 2 March.

Brake urges all drivers never to drink any alcohol or take any drugs before driving: not a drop, not a drag. See Brake’s advice below.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“It is encouraging to see police increasingly using an intelligence-led approach to catching drink and drug drivers, and their Christmas and summer enforcement campaigns remain vitally important. Drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads and we have some way to go before we persuade all drivers to commit to never driving after drinking. It’s especially worrying that the message is not getting through to a significant minority of young people. People who persist in drink driving needlessly put the lives of others at risk and too often cause crashes that devastate families and communities, all for the sake of a drink. Our message is clear: it should be none for the road.”

The police figures coincide with Brake launching a new interactive e-learning resource, ‘Sober up’, produced with sponsorship from Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions. The resource is available at brake.org.uk/soberup and can be used by drivers and families directly, as well as by educators, employers and road safety practitioners to engage groups of young people and drivers on the issue of drink and drug driving.

Read about Brake’s ‘not a drop, not a drag’ campaign.

Facts

One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [3], but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [4]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [5].

Brake’s advice

Even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times and hazard perception, making them much more likely to crash. This is the case even if the driver doesn't feel drunk or even tipsy. So the only way to ensure you're safe if you're driving this festive season is not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks. And as a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.

Planning ahead to get home safely will help you avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Calls for government action

Brake calls for a zero tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, to send a clear message that it should be none for the road. This allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is a limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within the EU only Malta shares the UK's limit of 80mg alcohol. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced intentions to reduce their limits to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. In Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers will have a zero tolerance limit of 20mg.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1]Christmas party-goers urged to help save lives by standing up to ‘designated drivers’ who drink, as survey shows we’re still too timid, Brake, 10 December 2013
[2] Huge roads policing cuts put public at risk, warns charity, Brake, 23 January 2012
[3] Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report, Department for Transport, 2013, includes those drivers who were involved in crashes but were under the legal limit.
[4] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[5] ibid

Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards 2018

FLO Award logo 2018 Copy

Brake's Family Liaison Officer Awards recognise the outstanding achievements and support provided by Police Family Liaison Officers.

The awards highlight best practice in supporting families following a road death or serious injury, showcasing outstanding achievement in working alongside victims of road crashes.

The awards ceremony for the 2018 Family Liaison Officer Awards took place during Brake's Annual Reception, held at the Houses of Parliament on 6 June 2018.

Photos from the awards evening are available to view here.

The two awards available for nominations in 2018 were the:

  • 'Outstanding Officer Achievement' award

Open for peer entries from Police staff, this award recognised significant, ongoing contributions to victims’ families from a Family Liaison Officer.

  • Family Award

This prize was open for families who were supported by a Police Family Liaison Officer. 

Congratulations to all of our winners and highly commends in the inaugural Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards, 2018:

Outstanding Officer Achievement Award nominations:

• PC Samantha Allen, Thames Valley Police
• PC Jonathan Ardron, Lancashire Constabulary
• PC Christopher Bradley, Norfolk Constabulary
• PC Peter James Brandon, Lancashire Constabulary
• PC Vanessa Busby, Cumbria Police
• PC John Clarke, Suffolk Constabulary
• PC Tom Davies, Cumbria Police
• DS Jeff Edwards, Metropolitan Police
• PC Jamie Lang, Dyfed Powys
• PC Matthew Nyhan, South Wales Police
• PC Nerys Reeve, South Wales Police
• PC Joanne Roberts, North Wales Police
• PC Nicola Sarjeant, Hampshire Police
• DC Jenny Stanley, West Yorkshire Police
• PO Kelle Westwood, West Mercia Police
• PS Andy Whittaker, South Yorkshire Police
• PC Michael Woodhouse, Cleveland Police

Shortlisted:

• PC Christopher Bradley, Norfolk Constabulary
• PC Tom Davies, Cumbria Police
• PC Matthew Nyhan, South Wales Police
• PC Nerys Reeve, South Wales Police
• PC Nicola Sarjeant, Hampshire Police
• DC Jenny Stanley, West Yorkshire Police

Highly commended:

• PC Michael Woodhouse, Cleveland Police
• PC Vanessa Busby, Cumbria Police

Winner:

• PC Jonathan Ardron, Lancashire Constabulary

Family Award nominations:

• PC Allie Cotton, Suffolk Constabulary
• DC Nicola Croucher, Metropolitan Police
• PC Rick Hooley, Cheshire Police
• PC Deanna Hyde, Derbyshire Police
• PC George Laflin, Suffolk Constabulary
• PC Pete Linsley, Northumbria Police
• PC Simon Myall, Suffolk Constabulary
• PC Ian Stuart, Hampshire Police

Shortlisted:

• PC Allie Cotton, Suffolk Constabulary
• DC Nicola Croucher, Metropolitan Police
• PC Simon Myall, Suffolk Constabulary

Highly commended:

• PC Deanna Hyde, Derbyshire Police
• PC Pete Linsley, Northumbria Police

Winner:

• PC Rick Hooley, Cheshire Police

Additional details about the 2018 Family Liaison Officer Awards and winning nominees can be found in Brake's media centre. If you would like any further information about the Awards, please email floaward@brake.org.uk

Details about the 2019 Family Liaison Officer Awards will be announced soon.

These awards would not have been possible without the kind support of headline sponsors Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

SlaterGordon 2015 logo 

Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards 2019

FLO Award logo 2019

Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards

Brake is pleased to confirm that its Family Liaison Officer Awardswill return in 2019, and are now open for entry.

The awards celebrate and recognise the outstanding achievements and support provided by Police Family Liaison Officers, and showcase best practice in supporting families following a road death or serious injury.

Following a judging process, an awards ceremony will take place in summer 2019.

Three categories will be open for nominations in 2019:

  • Outstanding Officer Achievement Award

This award is open for peer entries from Police staff, and we are encouraging nominations from all 43 forces in England and Wales. This award seeks to recognise significant, ongoing contribution to victims’ families from an FLO.

Outstanding Officer Achievement Award entry form
Outstanding Officer Achievement Award guidance notes

  • Family Award

This prize is open for families who were supported by a Police Family Liaison Officer. We would encourage anyone who would like to share their experiences of support from a Police Family Liaison Officer to nominate their FLO for this award.

Family Award entry form
Family Award guidance notes

  • Award for Excellent Longstanding Service

This award, newly introduced in 2019, aims to recognise outstanding commitment and dedication to family liaison.

Award for Excellent Longstanding Service entry form
Award for Excellent Longstanding Service guidance notes

Nominations for these awards are open from 8 November 2018. The deadline for entries is 15 March 2019.

If you would like any further information or guidance about entering the award, please email floaward@brake.org.uk.

The award winners will be invited to present their case studies at Brake's annual 'Police family liaison following road death and serious injury' Conference, which will be held in the West Midlands in October 2019. 

Details of the winners of the 2018 Awards can be found on our website here.

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Breaking the bad news

Telling someone that a loved one has just lost their life is often said to be the hardest part of a police officer's work. It is certainly the worst possible news that anyone could receive. The way in which the message is delivered will always be remembered.   

When someone dies in a road crash, the circumstances are usually traumatic; the deaths untimely and sometimes involve more than one member of the family. The officer delivering the message is not immune to the trauma, particularly if the person who has been bereaved reminds them of their own family or background. Breaking the news to a personal friend or former colleague is particularly difficult.   

It is difficult to envisage a 'best way' of breaking bad news, but there are many things that can make a bad experience even worse.    

Case study: making a bad experience worse   
"I was woken at about 8 a.m. by a knock on the front door. I went downstairs and opened it to find two police officers, who were clearly nervous. One of them told me, "Your partner has been involved in an accident on the motorway. Do you recognise these?" He held up a plastic bag with a watch, a ballpoint pen and a wallet. I recognised them as belonging to Peter who had left for work as a taxi driver the previous night. There was blood in the bag and on the items. We went into the lounge and the officer said that they understood that Peter had been trapped in the wreckage, but did not know any more than that. They handed me a piece of paper with a handwritten telephone number and told me I should ring it for more information. Then they told me that they had another job to go to, asked me to sign for Peter's property and left the house. The whole episode took about five minutes. I rang the number, but it was incorrect and got me through to an elderly lady who had no idea what I was talking about. I rang my local police force, who had no record of an accident and they suggested I try neighbouring forces. Eventually I found a helpful inspector, who said he would make enquiries and get back to me. He phoned back about twenty minutes later and gave me another police force phone number to ring. I rang it, and was told that I should have had a message to ring the Coroner's Officer and meet him at the mortuary. This was the first I knew that Peter was dead. Peter died six years ago and I feel bitter about the way in which I was told."   

The good news is that there are 'good practice' methods that officers can follow when breaking bad news. These are not necessarily the methods that have been passed down over the years for example, delivering a death message used to be seen as a 'rite of passage' for new officers; a practice which is unacceptable, given the potential for getting it wrong.       

In some forces, it is usual for a trained FLO to deliver a death message after receiving a briefing from the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) at the scene of the crash. This may be an officer who is 'called out' specifically to perform this role and will be in a position to continue to act as the FLO.       

In other forces, it is rare for the officer who will eventually act as FLO to be in a position to deliver the news themselves - the force's callout system, the geography of the police force area, a particular need for urgency, or duties at the crash scene can prevent them making a local notification straightaway. This means that the burden of delivering the death message may fall on section staff who are also called upon to deliver messages on behalf of other forces, or for deaths which result from suicide, drugs overdose, industrial accidents, sudden medical emergency and those which occur overseas. For example, Cumbria Constabulary stipulates that if an FLO cannot deliver the news themselves, a sergeant, tutor, or other experienced officer should deliver the message.   

Best Practice

Most work on determining best practice for basic death notification procedures has been carried out in the United States and includes a model published in 1992 by the Iowa Department of Justice. The model is summarized as:    

In Person

In Time

In Pairs

In Plain Language

and With Compassion.   

This model is used by a number of North American police departments and has been adapted by some British police forces, such as Cumbria. It is similar to training given to doctors on how to break bad news to patients.   

In Person
Anyone who could be described as a 'primary bereaved person', such as a partner, parent or child of the person who has died, should be informed face to face. Human presence is an important factor, as there is an immediate need for compassion and support. On learning that a loved one has been killed in an unexpected, violent manner, many people suffer a severe traumatic shock reaction and the officer carrying out the notification may be the only person available to offer support. Notification in person is common practice in the UK, with details being passed to other force areas for delivery by a local FLO when necessary. Telephone notification is not an acceptable practice. It is also important that no personal details be passed by insecure radio links, the situation can only be made worse if someone who has been bereaved finds out first from the media or third parties of the loss of their loved one.   

In Time
All 'primary bereaved' people should be notified as soon as possible after the event. No matter what the time of day or night, there is no benefit in saving the news till a 'better' time. There is no good time, full stop and US research shows that many bereaved people resent any unnecessary delay in informing them. When someone has been critically injured in a crash; prompt notification can be even more important - it might give a loved one the chance to see the injured person in hospital before they die.   

While there should be no unnecessary delay in carrying out a death notification, it is crucial that there is a very high degree of certainty of the identity of the person who has died. Death notifications are made even more difficult if, for example, the notifying officer has to confirm that someone owns a particular vehicle before they are able to say that someone has died. If a mistaken notification is made, albeit in good faith, initial relief may be replaced by anger at the unnecessary emotional suffering that someone has been put through.   

In Pairs   
Two people should attend to make a notification of unexpected sudden deaths. Immediate traumatic shock reactions vary from case to case and can include severe distress, withdrawal, outright denial, hysteria and even violence. Any such reaction is considered natural in such traumatic circumstances.   

Normally both of the people attending should be police officers although there are circumstances in which an officer might be accompanied by a member of the clergy, a doctor, a family friend or even a traumatic bereavement support worker. It can be preferable for a familiar face to be present to offer immediate support, as long as this does not cause any delay. For example when carrying out a notification in the workplace a supervisor or a close colleague, could be present. When visiting the home of the person who has been bereaved to break the news this is not often possible. In that case it is best for at least one of the notifying officers to be of the same gender as the bereaved and generally it is considered that a female/ male combination of officers works best.   

If the notifying officers travel in separate vehicles this increases their flexibility after the message has been delivered, for example, one of them could leave to collect a close friend, relative or child to be with the bereaved person. When a pair of officers attends to notify the bereaved, they should prepare themselves in advance by ensuring that they both know the names of the person who has died and the person who has been bereaved. They should decide in advance who will deliver the message itself.   

In Plain Language
With the exception of regular offenders, most people have very little personal contact with the police. They will naturally assume the worst if two police officers knock at their door late at night. In such a situation, fear and panic may set in, and they may not be able to focus on what is being said to them. The notifying officer must therefore deliver the message straight away and in simple, unequivocal, terms.   

The Iowa model calls for the notifying officers to identify themselves, ask to come in and get the person to sit down, confirming that they are the right person. In many cases it is the person who has been bereaved that answers the door. They want to know immediately why the police are calling and may not want to wait until they have taken the officers through to the lounge or kitchen and sat down. In such circumstances it may be appropriate just to ask to come in and speak inside, saying that there is urgent news to pass on. Once inside, out of view of neighbours or passers-by, the message should be delivered without delay.   

A useful phrase is "I have some very bad news I must tell you", followed by a direct statement of what has occurred, such as "Your husband has been involved in a car crash and I am sorry to have to tell you that he has died". It is much more effective to use the words 'dead', 'died', or 'killed'' rather than euphemisms such as "he didn't make it", "she was fatally injured", or "he's not coming back". Such phrases might seem easier to utter but they are very easily misunderstood by a bereaved person in their initial shock. It will often be necessary to repeat the message or to have to convince a bereaved person that you are telling the truth.   

Once the news starts to sink in, the bereaved person will need more information about circumstances, location, time of death, and so on. Officers should answer any questions the bereaved may have to the best of their ability, but should not speculate. A straightforward notification form outlining the circumstances of the crash, such as that used by Cumbria police, can be helpful. Forms can be faxed from one police station or force to another and serve as a useful aide-memoir for the notifying officer. They are not designed to be used as the means of breaking bad news.   

Working in pairs can be advantageous as one officer can remain with the bereaved whilst the other makes discreet follow-up enquiries. Depending on the exact working circumstances it can be useful to be able to make phone contact with an officer at the scene, though this should be done away from the person who has been bereaved, who might otherwise insist on speaking to the OIC directly.   

It is really important to refer to the person who has died by their name rather than as 'the body' or 'the deceased', which can sound unsympathetic, and the bereaved person will probably find it easier to be told that their loved one will be taken "to the hospital" rather than "the mortuary". It will almost always be appropriate to tell someone who is bereaved "I am sorry that this has happened".   

With Compassion   
The Iowa model states, "Your presence and compassion are the two most important resources you bring to death notification". Officers should try to react in a supportive way to the emotions of bereaved people and should also cultivate awareness of their own emotions. It is not unnatural to feel sympathy for people who have been bereaved, and this may even be expressed by the officer shedding a tear. This is far better than attempting to suppress emotions and appearing cold, callous and uncaring.   

Unless it is clear that the bereaved person and the officer share common beliefs, religion is a topic that is best left alone. Bereaved people in the US also report that phrases such as "I know what you are going through", "She wouldn't have known much about it"or "He had a good innings", which are uttered in a vain attempt to offer comfort, do not.   

Unless the bereaved person specifically requests it, the officers should never just deliver their message, then leave. Officers should allow plenty of time to provide information and support for a bereaved person and should make every effort to find and bring a close friend or relative to them.   

There may be a need for formal identification, but even when there is not, a bereaved person may still want to see the body of the person who has died. They should always be given this option, even when the person who has died has suffered horrific injuries an officer should never assume that someone will not want to see the body of a loved one, however badly it is damaged. In addition to providing transport to the hospital/mortuary, the officer can also prepare them for seeing the body by making them aware of what to expect in terms of apparent injuries.   

There may be personal items belonging to the person who has died which must be preserved and returned to the 'primary bereaved' person/ people. These should not be taken with the officers at the time of notification, but can be passed on later, in a caring manner and in an appropriate carrier. South Yorkshire Police, for example, have dark blue property bags marked with a simple force crest for returning personal items.   

Exit Strategy   
Once the message has been delivered and understood, a friend or relative is looking after the bereaved and arrangements are in hand for the deceased to be formally identified, it is time to consider the exit strategy.    

The officers who have carried out the notification should ensure that they leave the bereaved person with contact details for the FLO (if neither officer is going to act as FLO), the SIO or officer in the case and the Coroner's Officer. If the death has occurred in a different police force area, one of the notifiers should be prepared to act as a local contact. Ideally, if neither officer is going to act as FLO, they should wait until the FLO arrives, so they can introduce him/her to the bereaved person. If that is not possible, they should find out when the FLO will be making contact with the bereaved person and make sure that they have this information.   

Before taking their leave, the officers should ensure that a bereaved person has suitable transport to the hospital or morgue: the first priority of many bereaved people is to see their loved one's body immediately. Wherever possible this transport should be provided by the officers, as a bereaved person is likely to be in shock and unable to drive themselves anywhere safely.   

Case study
"My husband of six weeks had gone to work the previous evening and I was expecting him home at any time. At about 9.30 a.m. the police came to my house. There was a male sergeant and a female PC. The sergeant asked if they could come in as they had to talk to me urgently. As they stepped into the hall I asked what they wanted. The sergeant said that they needed to know if we owned a red Ford Escort and he told me its registration number. It was our car, I told him, and added that my husband Tom had taken it to work. He said that the car had been involved in a serious collision about an hour earlier and they believed that the driver was my husband. The sergeant said he had some bad news, that the driver had died in the collision and they needed to identify him. He asked if I had a photograph of my husband and when I showed him one he told me that it looked like the description of the driver. He asked if there were any children in the house and whether the police could contact anyone for me. I said that I wanted to go to my parents who lived nearby. The police officers took me there, and explained to my parents what had happened. They stayed with us until they were told that Tom had been taken to a hospital, and then arranged for my father and me to be taken to the hospital to identify him. They spoke to other members of my family and kept everybody informed about what was going on. The sergeant said he had to take some details and luckily my brother was available to help him with these as I was too upset. He added that he would need to get a statement but could leave that for a day or so until I felt ready to speak to him. The sergeant then gave me the names and telephone numbers of the officer who was dealing with the crash, and also the Coroner's Officer. Then they left the house so that I could get to the hospital to be with Tom."  

 Author: Simon Hepworth     Edited by: Cathy Keeler     Date written: 2005     Date updated: 2006    

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Civil claims

Some police officers working with bereaved and injured families express wariness of personal injury solicitors and civil claims generally. When it comes to professional personal injury solicitors with a specialism in fatal and serious injury road crash civil claims, this wariness is unfounded and potentially damaging to families, preventing them accessing vital funds. While money cannot replace a loved one, it can pay for things that make life more tolerable for families who are facing the worst time of their lives.   

For many people bereaved or injured by a road crash a successful civil claim provides an essential financial life line and, critically, can be pursued at no or very limited cost to the victims themselves.   

For people who have been bereaved by a road crash, a successful civil claim can provide vital financial assistance; particularly, but not exclusively, for those families where a main breadwinner has been killed and there are dependents such as children or elderly people. Claims can provide for a range of costs, from funeral expenses, to providing extensive, on-going living costs for a family raising children in order to cover a lost salary.  

For people seriously injured and their families, a successful civil claim can pay for necessary care in the home and additional health services above and beyond those that the NHS can provide.   

Civil claims often proceed even where criminal prosecutions haven't.   

It is particularly important for police to remember that the burden of proof required in a civil claim is generally lower than that required to proceed with a criminal prosecution. This means that a civil claim against a third party driver may still be possible even if that driver is not being prosecuted with a criminal offence, and even if the person who died or was injured may partly have been to blame (for example, they were a pedestrian who walked into the road).    

It is important to be aware that families will generally not know the above, and may think that because a criminal prosecution is not going ahead, they definitely don't have a civil claim; when they may indeed have a very good claim.    

Police can therefore be an enormous assistance to families by encouraging them to contact a personal injury solicitor with an expertise and experience in dealing with fatal road crashes. This can easily be achieved by calling the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401, who can provide contact details for your police force areas. A family's initial consultation with a solicitor to find out if they have a claim is generally free.    

It's important to contact a specialist personal injury solicitor reasonably quickly.   

Personal injury solicitors need to, obviously, prepare their cases, and the more time they have, the better. While some information may not be available to them from the police until an investigation is complete, it can help a civil claim if a family's personal injury solicitor is hired in time to attend any inquest or other proceeding that is taking place, gain evidence of injuries, or even consider with the family a second post mortem.    

It is therefore not a good idea to advise a family to delay hiring a personal injury solicitor - this could damage their claim substantially, and after certain lengths of time claims cannot be made at all.    

It is therefore helpful if you can direct families to a specialist personal injury solicitor, to find out if they may or may not have a claim, quite soon after the crash, perhaps in your second or third contact with a family.    

Avoiding sharks and charlatans   

Claims assessors are not personal injury solicitors and are not qualified or regulated. They may offer families a contingency fee, where the family pays a percentage of their awards to their claims assessor if they win. In the case of big claims, this means a family may end up paying an enormous and totally unreasonable amount. You can help families by warding them away from claims assessors and ringing the Brake helpline to contact a specialist personal injury solicitor for a family.   

Brake also has experience of some solicitors offering to take on fatal or serious road crash civil claims when they have little experience in this area. It is very important that families seek the advice and assistance of a solicitor who is a specialist and experienced in dealing with a case such as theirs, and that they don't just hire the solicitor they know who maybe wrote their will or sold their house. Claims for compensation following an injury or death are not always straightforward and it is vital that an expert is found especially if the matter is severe involving the loss of a limb, a head or spinal injury, the death of a loved one, or if the claim concerns potentially negligent medical treatment.   

Further reading   

Read the information in the civil claims section of the Brake bereavement pack Advice for bereaved families and friends following a death on the road for more background knowledge of civil claims in bereavement cases. You can also read Brake's guide for serious injury victims for information about civil claims in serious injury cases.

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Faith issues following a death on the road

We need to be sensitive to cultural or religious issues that may arise when liaising with families, particularly those from ethnic minority groups. Below are some guidelines about general customs and religious practices relating to death and funerals in some of the major religions practised in the UK today. This list is not exhaustive and is offered only as a general guide. Above all, we should remember that people are individuals and what is right for one person may not be right for another. If in doubt, it is best to ask - very few people will be offended and many will appreciate this.

General tips for FLOs and other support workers:

Many people in the UK refer to their 'Christian name' and 'surname'. However, asking for a 'Christian name' may be offensive to non-Christians. Asking for a 'first name' and 'second name' may lead to confusion with some naming traditions. It is best to ask for someone's 'full name'. If you need to distinguish between different parts of a person's name, you can ask for their 'personal name' and 'family name'.    

In the UK, it is traditional to cross the arms of a dead person across their chest. However, it should be noted that this is a Christian tradition (the sign of the cross is a sign of Christianity) and may be offensive to non-Christians. It is best to make sure that the arms of the dead person are not crossed before family and friends view the body.   

In the UK, it is traditionally a sign of respect to remove headgear when entering a house. In some traditions, the opposite is true. It is best to check whether someone would like you to cover or uncover your head and whether or not they wish you to remove your shoes before entering their house.   

Many people find their faith and religious community a comfort in time of crisis. However, it is also common for a traumatic event, such as a death on the road, to lead people to question the assumptions they hold about the world and this may include questioning their religious beliefs. Individuals may or may not feel strongly about different aspects of their faith.

Christians    

Christianity is the most common religion in the UK, although numbers of practising Christians are declining. The Christian holy book is the Bible. Most Christians in the UK belong to the Church of England and are known as 'Anglicans', but there are significant numbers of Christians from other churches. These include Catholics (sometimes called 'Roman' Catholics), Methodists, Baptists, the Salvation Army, Orthodox Christians, Pentecostal Christians, Quakers and others. Their beliefs are very similar, but some beliefs and practices differ.   

Religious leaders and places of worship:Each type of Christian church has a slightly different religious hierarchy, but local religious leaders are usually ordained 'priests' (sometimes known as 'ministers', 'vicars' or 'pastors'), although for Quakers, they will be a leader appointed from the community. The Christian place of worship is a 'church', although the Quaker place of worship is known as a 'meeting house’.

Some Christians may wish a religious leader from their own church to be present after someone dies. It is particularly important to Catholics (and some Anglicans) to have a priest perform the 'last rites' (also known as the 'sacrament of the sick') when someone dies.   

When contacting a Christian Church, it is usually best to ask to speak to the priest.  

Holy days:The Christian holy day is Sunday, when Christians usually attend a church service.   

Beliefs about death:Christians believe in life after death, where everyone will be judged by God and sent, accordingly, to heaven or hell. However, these beliefs are open to a wide variety of interpretation. For example, some Christians believe that everyone will go to hell when they die, unless they repent of their sins and accept Jesus, the son of God, as their 'saviour' - others interpret the notion of hell more symbolically, as a state of existing 'without God'.

Practices following death     

Positioning the body:Traditionally, Christians may cross the arms of a person who has died, or place the hands together, as if in prayer.   

Personal possessions:Some Christians may wear jewellery in the shape of a cross, or a fish. There are no particular religious reasons for offence if this jewellery needs to be removed.     

Funeral:Christians often bury their dead, due to the traditional belief that the physical body is resurrected after death. However, many Christians believe in a spiritual, rather than a physical resurrection. There is no restriction on cremation for Christians, which is becoming more popular.   

Procedures following a death on the road

Post-mortems:Most Christians have no religious objections to organ post-mortems, although those who Christians who hold the traditional belief that the physical body is resurrected after death may object.   

Organ and tissue donation:Most Christians have no religious objections to organ and tissue donation although those Christians who hold the traditional belief that the physical body is resurrected after death may object.    

Speaking to Christians

Names:Christians tend to follow the naming system of the country they live in.

Visiting a Christian home 

Entering a Christian home:Some items of particular religious significance may be found in some Christian homes, including: the Bible; a cross or crucifix; and rosary beads, which are used in prayer. These items should not be touched without permission.   

Muslims   

The Muslim religion is called 'Islam'. Its holy book is the Quran or Koran, which Muslims believe to be the word of God (Allah) conveyed through his prophet Mohammed. Most Muslims in the UK are Sunni Muslims or Shi'ite (pronounced 'shee-ite') Muslims. Their beliefs are very similar, but their practice of Islam differs.   

Religious leaders and places of worship:A Muslim religious leader may be called an 'imam', but this term means different things to Sunnis and Shi'ites, who have different ways of appointing their religious leaders. The Muslim place of worship is a 'mosque', which is run by a committee of local Muslims, rather than an ordained religious leader. It is not necessary to have a religious leader present after someone dies, as family members or any practising Muslim may perform the necessary rites. However, a bereaved Muslim may wish to contact the imam at the local mosque, particularly if they have no family present.   

When contacting a Muslim mosque, it is usually best to ask to speak to the Secretary of the Committee.

Holy days:All Muslims say set prayers five times every day, but on Fridays male Muslims go to pray at the mosque. Women and children usually say their prayers at home, but some mosques may provide a separate room for them to worship.  

Beliefs about death:Muslims believe in life after death, and that they will be judged by Allah on the life they have led and sent, accordingly, to heaven or hell. They believe that the physical body is resurrected after death. Some Muslims may try not to show grief following a death, to show that they accept it as being Allah's will, and that death is only a temporary separation.

Practices following death

Time factors: Muslim tradition requires the dead to be buried as soon as possible.   

Positioning the body:Traditionally, Muslims close the eyes and straighten the limbs of a dead person before wrapping them in a white sheet and turning their head to face their right shoulder so that they can be buried to face Mecca. Further preparation for burial, including washing the body will be carried out, by the family, at the person's home, at the mosque, or at the funeral director's before burial.   

Touching the body: Many Muslims prefer that the body is not touched by anyone who is not a Muslim themselves. If this is necessary, the non-Muslim should wear disposable gloves.    

Viewing the body: It is important that the head of the deceased Muslim is covered before the family sees it.   

Personal possessions: Some Muslims may wear a 'taviz' (a small piece of cloth, leather or metal inscribed with words from the Quran) on a black string around their arm, waist, or neck. This should not be removed without permission from the family.   

Funeral: Traditionally, Muslims bury their dead, but do not use a coffin and do not mark the grave, though the ground is raised. They are never cremated. However, for burials in the UK, it is a legal requirement to use a coffin and mark the grave. Some local authorities provide a specific area for Muslim burials, but others do not, which may cause distress. If possible, a Muslim funeral director should be used. Some Muslim families may wish to take their dead to a Muslim country so they can follow traditional requirements for burial.

Procedures following a death on the road:    

Time factors: Muslim tradition requires the dead to be buried as soon as possible. The procedures that follow a death on the road may delay burial, which can cause distress. The need for these procedures should be explained sensitively.   

Identification procedures: It is important that the head of the deceased Muslim is covered before the family sees it.   

Post-mortems: This is a legal requirement following fatal road crashes, but it is a procedure that is unacceptable to many Muslims. The need for a post-mortem should be explained sensitively.   

Organ and tissue donation: Strict Muslims will not want any part of a body to be donated, but some may consider it acceptable.    

Speaking to Muslims   

Names: As the naming system is very different to the traditional system used in the UK, care should be taken when addressing or referring to Muslim men and women. In order to avoid any confusion it is always best to use the full name (eg. Mohammed Khalid; Fatma Bibi). Avoid the use of Mr or Mrs unless you use it in conjunction with two personal names (eg. Mrs Fatma Bibi NOT Mrs Bibi, which could refer to a number of different women).   

Speaking to a Muslim woman: When speaking to a Muslim woman, it is preferable if a relative or a female police officer is present.    

Visiting a Muslim home   

Entering a Muslim home: It is polite to offer to remove your footwear before entering the house of a Muslim family.   

Sikhs   

Sikhism is based on belief in one God and the teachings of the ten Gurus (teachers), who were the first leaders of the Sikh religion. These teachings are found in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Some Sikhs are baptised and wear the five signs of Sikhism: Kesh (uncut hair, often concealed beneath a turban or scarf); kangha (a comb); kara (a steel bangle); kirpan (a symbolic dagger); kaccha (special underwear). Other Sikhs may or may not be baptised and may wear some or none of the five signs.   

Religious leaders and places of worship:Sikhs worship in the prayer room of a temple (Gurdwara). There is no religious hierarchy in Sikhism. Any Sikh can act as a 'granthi' (person who reads the Guru Granth Sahib). A scholar and preacher is known as a 'giani'. The temple is run by an elected lay committee.    

When contacting a Sikh temple, it is usually best to ask to speak to the Secretary of the committee.   

Holy days: Sikhs usually visit the temple on Sundays.   

Beliefs about death: Sikhs believe in reincarnation - that each soul is re-born until it reaches perfection and avoids returning to earth. They believe that a person's 'karma' - behaviour, thoughts and deeds from their past life - influences their current life, but that karma can be improved by the grace of God. The attitude towards death is not one of sadness.   

Practices following death

Time factors: It is customary that cremation takes place as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.   

Positioning the body: The eyes and mouth should be closed, limbs straightened and body wrapped in a plain sheet.   

Touching the body: Sikhs have no religious objection to health workers or funeral directors touching the body, but Asian Sikh families may prefer to wash and lay out the body themselves.   

Personal possessions: The five signs of Sikhism should not be removed from the body.   

Funeral: Sikhs are traditionally cremated, accompanied by the five signs of Sikhism and their ashes are scattered in a river, at sea, or in a holy place. Sikhs wear white clothing at funerals.  

Procedures following a death on the road

Time factors: It is customary that cremation takes place as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. Sikhs tend to accept that the procedures that follow a death on the road may delay burial. The need for these procedures should be explained sensitively.     

Post-mortems: Sikhs have no religious objection to post mortems.   

Organ and tissue donation: Sikhs have no religious objection to organ transplants.

Speaking to Sikhs

Names: Some Sikhs in the UK have re-adopted their family name, which may be used after their religious name. If the family name is used instead of the religious name, it is important to note whether the person is male or female (as this is impossible to tell from a Sikh's personal name).   

Speaking to a Sikh woman: A Sikh woman may feel more comfortable if other family members are present when a male officer visits her home.   

Visiting a Sikh home

Entering a Sikh home: Some Sikh families may keep a complete copy of their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, in a special room in their home. No-one should enter this room without an invitation. If invited, you should offer to remove your footwear and cover your head. Other prayer books should also be treated with respect and never placed on the floor.

Hindus   

Hinduism is not only a religion, it is a social system as well. As there is no one holy book and there are hundreds of Hindu gods, Hindus follow their religion in diverse ways and will celebrate different festivals and in different ways depending upon their social and geographical background.

The three most important Hindu gods are Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the protector) and Shiva (the destroyer). Whichever god/s they tend to worship, Hindus are united in believing in one supreme spirit, Parabrahma (or Paramatma), 'karma', which is the force that provides natural rewards and punishments for behaviour; and the cycle of reincarnation, through which everyone must progress in order to be reunited with Parabrahma.   

Religious leaders and places of worship: Hindu worship may take place at shrines in the mandir (temple) or in the home. Hindus have religious teachers, called 'gurus', but they do not run the mandir: it is run by an elected committee of local Hindus.   

When contacting a Hindu mandir, it is usually best to ask to speak to the Secretary of the Committee.

Holy days: Hindus worship at the mandir or in the home. There is no particular day set aside for worship. The holy days they celebrate may vary.   

Beliefs about death: Hindus believe in reincarnation - that each soul is re-born until it reaches perfection and avoids returning to earth. They believe that a person's 'karma' - behaviour, thoughts and deeds from their past life - influences the state their soul is born into in their current life. Hindus believe that when a person's soul becomes pure enough, it is united with Brahma.

Practices following death

Time factors: It is customary that the funeral takes place as soon as possible.  

Positioning the body: The eyes should be closed, limbs straightened and body wrapped in a plain sheet, but permission to touch the body should be gained from the family before doing this, if possible.   

Touching the body: The body should not be touched, if possible, until permission is given by the person's family. It may cause some Hindus distress if the body is touched by a non-Hindu.   

Personal possessions: Any jewellery worn by a Hindu may have religious or social significance and should not be removed without permission. Many Hindus wear a necklace and a thread which passes diagonally across their body, from shoulder to waist. These have special religious significance and should not be removed. In addition, many Hindu wives wear a brooch given to them by their husband, which denotes their married status (sometimes worn on a necklace of gold or black beads). They may also wear glass and/ or gold wedding bangles as well as one or more wedding rings.    

As Hindus consider the feet to be the dirtiest part of the body, shoes should not be returned in the same bag as other possessions. In particular, holy books should not be placed on the floor, or near feet or shoes.   

Funeral: Hindus are always cremated and their ashes are sprinkled into the sea, or a river. Some Hindus travel to India, in order to sprinkle a loved one's ashes into the river Ganges, which has special religious significance for Hindus.   

Procedures following a death on the road

Time factors: Cremation takes place as soon as possible after death.   

Post-mortems: Although this is a legal requirement following fatal road crashes, officers should be aware that this procedure is considered deeply disrespectful in Hinduism. Officers should use tact and sensitivity when explaining the need for this procedure.    

Organ and tissue donation: Hindus have no religious objection to organ and tissue donation.   

Speaking to Hindus   

Names: Hindus usually have a personal name, followed by a middle name (which is usually their father's name) and a family name, which denotes the person's social status.   

Speaking to a Hindu woman: Male officers should not speak to a Hindu woman on her own, another family member should be present.  

Visiting a Hindu home  

Entering a Hindu home: It is polite to offer to remove your footwear before entering the house of a Hindu family.   

Entering a room containing a shrine: Most Hindu homes contain a room with a small shrine where the family can worship. The shrine usually consists of statues of one or more gods, pictures of gods and saints and incense. There may be symbolic offerings of food left at the shrine. You should not enter this room, or touch anything on the shrine, without an invitation to do so. Anyone still wearing footwear should offer to remove it before entering and women should offer to cover their heads.   

Jews   

Judaism is one of the world's oldest religions. Jews believe that there is one God and that they are his 'chosen people'. The Jewish holy book is called the 'Torah' and Jews believe that it reveals God's will. The Ten Commandments are a central part of God's instructions for his people. There are several different groups of Jews: Orthodox Jews, who follow the instructions of the Torah very strictly; and non-orthodox Jews, who may be part of the Reform, Progressive, Conservative or Liberal movements, who believe that the Torah's teachings may be adapted to modern life.   

Religious leaders and places of worship: Jewish teachers are called 'rabbis' and will often lead the service at the 'synagogue', the Jewish place of worship, although any Jew may do this. The synagogue is often run by a committee of local Jews and not every synagogue in the UK will have its own rabbi.   

When contacting a Jewish synagogue, it is usually best to ask to speak to the Secretary of the committee.   

Holy days: The Jewish holy day is the Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Jews are forbidden from doing any work on the Sabbath, which is set aside for prayer and visiting the synagogue. For many Jews, the restriction on working on the Sabbath extends to activities such as driving a car, using the telephone, cooking and watching television.   

Beliefs about death: Jews believe in life after death, when their soul will be resurrected to be with God in heaven. Some Orthodox Jews believe that their body will be resurrected as well as their soul.   

Practices following death

Time factors: It is Jewish custom to bury the dead as quickly as possible, usually within two days, but not on the Sabbath or another holy day.   

Positioning the body: The eyes and mouth should be closed, limbs straightened and arms placed by the side of the body, with the hands unclenched.   

Touching the body: Jews will wish to wash the body and cover it with a white sheet to prepare it for burial. It is usual for a group of Jewish men to prepare a male body and a group of Jewish women to prepare a female body for burial.

Viewing the body: Jews will not want the body to be left unattended until the time of the funeral and it may be upsetting if this is not possible.  

Personal possessions: Some orthodox Jewish men wear a 'kippah' (skull cap) or wide-brimmed hat. If possible, this should not be removed. 

Funeral: The majority of Jews are buried, although nowadays some are cremated. The funeral is often followed by a seven-day mourning period, called 'shiva', in which friends and family visit the immediate family of the person who has died to comfort them and pray with them. Some Jews may also observe a 30-day period of mourning called 'shaloshim'. During 'shiva' and 'shaloshim' Jews may not cut their hair, wear new clothes, or attend any celebration, including listening to music.   

Procedures following a death on the road

Time factors:It is Jewish custom to bury the dead as quickly as possible, usually within two days.   

Post-mortems: Although this is a legal requirement following fatal road crashes, this procedure is unacceptable under Jewish law. Tact and sensitivity should be used when explaining the need for this procedure.  

Organ and tissue donation: Orthodox Jews are unlikely to agree to organ and tissue donation, but some other Jews may. It is best to ask, but with tact and sensitivity.   

Speaking to Jews

Names: Jews tend to follow the naming system of the country they live in, but may have a Hebrew name in addition to the name they use.   

Visiting a Jewish home

Entering a Jewish home: It is polite to ask if Jews would like you to cover your head before entering their home. Some Jews may prefer not to be visited on the Sabbath, but if in doubt, check. Some Jewish houses may have a small container (a 'mezuzah') fixed to the door post. This contains words from Jewish holy scrolls and Jews often touch it when entering or leaving the house.   

Items in a Jewish home: Some items in a Jewish home, including some candlesticks and silver cups, may have great religious significance and should not be touched. If in doubt, ask.   

Buddhists   

Buddhism is more a philosophy, or way of life, than a religion. It incorporates a number of different beliefs and practices, but all Buddhists seek 'Nirvana', a state of enlightenment in which personal needs and wishes are unimportant and suffering does not exist. Buddhists do not believe in any god or gods, but in the cycle of life and the desirability of achieving a state of Nirvana. There are two main traditions of Buddhism: 'Theravada' and 'Mahayana'. Customs and practices vary in these traditions.   

Religious leaders and places of worship: As Buddhists do not believe in a god or gods, they do not worship: instead they meditate, or reflect, in temples or 'viharas' which are smaller meeting houses. Temples and viharas are often run by Buddhist monks or nuns, known as 'venerables'. Many Buddhists homes also contain a shrine, where the family meditates.   

Beliefs about death: Buddhists believe that their life force is passed on when they die in the form of a new person. Buddhists accept death as part of the natural cycle of the universe.   

Practices following death

Time factors: In the Mahayana tradition, the body is usually left untouched for at least eight hours after death. In both traditions, a Buddhist monk should be called immediately to perform prayers over the body.   

Touching the body: There is no restriction as to who may touch the body, but it should always be handled in a respectful way.   

Personal possessions: Some Buddhists wear a necklace with a Buddhist picture or icon on it and chanting beads on their wrists. These should not be removed unless necessary.   

Funeral:
Buddhists may be either buried or cremated. Funeral ceremonies and traditions for Buddhists can vary depending on their country of origin.   

Procedures following a death on the road

Post-mortems: The need for a post-mortem should be explained with tact and sensitivity as although there is no religious objection, some Buddhists may consider it disrespectful.   

Organ and tissue donation:
There is no religious objection to organ and tissue donation, although some Buddhists may consider it disrespectful. If in doubt, ask.   

Speaking to Buddhists

Names: Buddhists tend to follow the naming system of the country they live in.  

Eye contact: Some Buddhists, particularly those from Asian cultures, may interpret direct eye contact as confrontational. In some Buddhist countries of origin the police are feared, hence Buddhists may appear hesitant and reserved in their dealings with them.  

Visiting a Buddhist home

Entering a Buddhist home: It is polite to offer to remove your footwear before entering the house of a Buddhist family.   

Entering a room containing a shrine: Most Buddhist homes contain a room with a small shrine where the family can meditate and reflect. The shrine usually consists of a small table with a statue of Buddha, flowers, candles and incense. You should not enter this room, or touch anything on the shrine, without an invitation to do so. You should offer to remove footwear and headgear before entering a room containing a shrine.      

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: FLO Coordinators and selection and training of FLOs

Police forces are now frequently appointing senior managers as Family Liaison Officer Co-ordinators and this is good practice. These officers should have received training and development in this role to ensure that are effectively prepared. The co-ordinator is responsible for administration and support functions.       

FLO Co-ordinators should administer supervision of the FLO system and maintain a register of all trained FLO's including details of their diversity including ethnic or cultural origins. There should be a comprehensive list of information on their FLO experience including the types of cases they have been deployed to and any brief synopsis of specific skills utilised and enhanced such as dealing with 'split families', suspects within a 'family', families with children or of a particular ethnic background, or any unique situation.       

The register should contain a list of other skills or qualifications held by the officer such as Sexual Offences Liaison trained, language or cultural skills.       

The FLO Co-ordinator should act as support for SIO's. An SIO may require advice and assistance in complex cases where multiple deployments of FLO's may be required.       

FLO Co-ordinators should also maintain a register of contact details of appropriate organisations or persons that may assist in Family Liaison. They need to share good practice both locally and nationally by networking and promoting the family liaison function. They need to facilitate peer group support through 'buddy' systems, monitor workloads and ensure the monitoring of mandatory attendance at welfare and occupational health units.       

The ACPO National FLO Strategy is quite prescriptive in indicating that FLO Co-ordinators should meet formally with all FLO's regularly and arrangements may be made for FLO's to get together on an informal basis to provide support, share good practice and update themselves on knowledge, understanding, skills and legislation.        

FLO Co-ordinators should be trained effectively and be able to:       

  • Describe the roles of SIO, Senior Identification Manager (SIM), FLO Co-ordinator, FLO and FLO Advisor (these may be adopted in some Police Services and role is similar to that of FLO Co-ordinator and should be trained to same level).       
  • Identify suitable support for families to cope with media interest and press matters.       
  • Identify principles involved in diffusing/de-briefing FLO's and issues of trauma risk management including therapeutic de-briefs and benefits of occupational health facilities.
  • Ensure effective risk assessments are conducted and managed appropriately.
  • Identify components of an effective FLO Strategy.       
  • Identify tactics, strategies and best practice involved in Family Liaison.       
  • Identify issues and factors relative to selection, training and effective deployment of FLO's.       

Selection of FLO's       

Family Liaison Co-ordinators may be involved with managers at a local level in identifying and selecting potential FLO's.       

Those performing the role of an FLO should do so with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity with duties being carried out with the utmost sensitivity to the needs of others.       

Careful selection procedures should be undertaken as to the suitability and intentions of applicants and they should be volunteers having a clear and reasoned motive for undertaking the role.       

Good practice suggests that FLO's should possess the following qualities, knowledge and competencies in particular:            

  • Be able to display good interpersonal skills.
  • Possess good communication and listening skills.
  • Be confident, self-assured, flexible and non-judgemental. 
  • Have the ability to manage own stress, having an understanding of the principles of stress management and work alone with minimal supervision. 
  • Be able to make accurate records.   
  • Possess a good knowledge of professional support services.
  • Possess a good knowledge of communities that they serve. 
  • Have a good knowledge of legal and procedural issues that encompass Family Liaison.     
  • Have proven investigative skills. 
  • Be trained in Investigative Interviewing in accordance with 'A Practical Guide to Investigative Interviewing'and to at least Tier 2.
  • Be experienced in dealing with exhibits.       

Training of FLO's   

FLO's should receive effective learning and development prior to performing the role of FLO. If an FLO is deployed and they are untrained then an SIO may have to answer policy issues as to why an untrained FLO was deployed.       

FLO's should receive effective learning and development, through an initial training course lasting no less than five days, and on-going refresher and specialist training annually or more frequently, and be able to, following this training:       

  • Explain the function of an FLO and the main responsibilities associated with the role.      
  • Explain the function of an SIO and the main responsibilities associated with the role.       
  • Explain the function of an FLO Co-ordinator and the main responsibilities associated with the role.
  • Identify action that should be taken on appointment as an FLO. 
  • Explain the function of, purpose of, and how to complete an FLO log.
  • Outline issues that should be considered in relation to identification of the family and when working with them. This to include ethnicity, cultural and lifestyle diversity.      
  • Possess knowledge and understanding of issues relating to road traffic law.     
  • Possess knowledge and understanding of issues relating to witness intimidation/harassment.       
  • Outline the role of the coroner and procedures in respect of coroner's courts and inquests.      
  • Outline procedures relating to body identification including access to, release of, organ/tissue donation and retention.  
  • Outline issues relating to property retrieval, retention and return. 
  • Outline the criminal justice system for purposes of giving information to a family, and also have a basic understanding of the value of the civil law system. 
  • Outline the grieving process including factors that affect it such as violent or sudden death and the criminal justice process.
  • Describe the main cultural and ethnic differences in death rites.  
  • Outline the process of media involvement. 
  • Possess knowledge of and an understanding of support agencies. 
  • Recognise where specialist intervention may be required. 
  • Outline responsibilities in cases involving family representatives and Independent Advisory Groups. 
  • Describe exit strategies and potential problems associated with this. 
  • Recognise the potential impact of emotional trauma on performance including dealing with aspects likely to be of a high stress level.
  • Recognise the impact of decisions made by the Crown which may adversely affect the family.           

Copyright Dave Morgan

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Handing out and using Brake support packs

It's one thing to have a really useful set of literature for giving to families affected by road crashes. But it's no good whatsoever unless the right literature is passed on to families in an empathetic and timely manner. That's your job, and this guidance document tells you how to do it in the best possible way, focussing on helping families who have been bereaved.    

'Information and Advice for bereaved families and friends following a death on the road' - the navy blue Brake folder, containing two books   

The FLO Strategy Manual by ACPO recommends that you hand out Brake's bereavement folder, 'Information and Advice for bereaved families and friends following a death on the road' in all cases of road death, and so does the Government's Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (section 5.13). It is free to you as it is funded by the Government.    

This folder of information, which you should already be familiar with, includes a YELLOW book about emotional responses and support agencies, and a RINGBOUND book about procedural and practical concerns. It is updated in wide consultation every year and is widely respected by a range of professionals, as well as widely applauded by families themselves.    

Read the below bullet points to hand out this pack in an empathetic and timely manner to bereaved families:   

  • Hand out more than one folder. This folder is funded by Government agencies. There are enough stocks available for you to hand out, for free, TWO EXTRA copies of the small YELLOW book to each family, and TWO copies of the navy blue folder (including both yellow and ringbound books) to each family. This is especially useful for split families, girlfriends, boyfriends, adult offspring, etc.   
  • Hand the folder and extra yellow books out right away. Although it is challenging professionally, you need to hand the packs out in the same meeting in which you deliver the death notice. [NB: If the bereaved family includes children, you should also at this stage hand out our children's book ('Someone has Died in a Road Crash') and its accompanying guide for carers of children. If you do not have copies of this widely-acclaimed resource, which is free and funded by BBC's Children in Need, contact us on 0808 8000 401 immediately.   
  • Open the folder at page one (labelled 'important contacts'). This is important as this is where you are asked to record your contact details, including your name, phone numbers and times you can be contacted. This is vital for the family, having it written in the pack is better than on a card, as they may lose a card. However, you could also slip a business card in the plastic flap at the front of the pack.   
  • Alert families to the helpline number on the front of the folder, and call the helpline if necessary. Direct the family to the Brake helpline number on the front of the folder. This helpline is not available 24 hours a day, but if you reach an answer machine we will call you back when you say you want us to. We are there to help you with your questions on behalf of the family, or to talk to the family directly if they prefer. We are there for emotional support and also to provide procedural advice on a range of points covered in the folder that are outside the remit of a police officer, ranging from wills to civil claims to accessing an assessment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The helpline is staffed by paid, trained professionals directly employed by the charity Brake, not volunteers or outside contractors.    
  • Topics covered in the folder that need to be read right away (this can be done by you or someone else on behalf of the family)You can use the folder as a way of helping a family deal with difficult topics that need addressing early on. The section called 'What happens now?' has a box opposite page 13 about organ donation. [Click here to read our advice on organ donation,][1] a vitally important subject area. Page 13 also has important information about viewing a body which is really valuable for families to read, or have read to them by you or someone else, very early on, before they view a body.   
  • Please use the plastic flaps at the front and back of the folder for important local information, for example your business card or information about local health and support services. However, please do not use it for commercial information or for information of fringe interest to families or for information that is not entirely empathetic or appropriate at this terrible time. Families have been upset in the past by inappropriate information being inserted in this way.

 Use of the folder throughout your involvement with a family   

You will find the folder very useful throughout your involvement with a family. Families often keep the folder close by - it is designed to be durable and not easy to lose (unlike a leaflet) - and may ask you questions that can be answered within the folder, using their copies or a copy that you keep on you (keep one on you at all times). You can work with families to seek the answers they need by reading the folder with them, and if necessary reading the folder to them (although the folder is written in plain language, using large font size, some families find it difficult to read at certain times when in crisis - you, or a relative or friend can help them to do this).    

In particular:

Practical issues: This section of the ring bound part of the folder is very useful to help you work with the family to identify practical concerns they may have and to help them solve them. This could be through a range of measures such as support with media queries, or help informing others about a death.    

Criminal charges and court procedures:These two sections of the ring bound part of the folder are very useful to help families to understand charge structures and what may happen in court.    

Civil claims: It is not your remit to be an expert in personal injury compensation, yet you may be asked by families about it. There is a very useful section on this in the ring bound part of the folder. You can help families by reading this section with them. It is most important that a family consults an expert personal injury solicitor to find out if they have a claim, and this shouldn't cost them anything. Brake's helpline can help them find such a solicitor.   

Assessment of medical needs: Many people bereaved by road crashes develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is not your job to act as a family's trauma therapist or to diagnose whether they indeed need therapy or not, but you can help them access a medical assessment of their needs, and consequently the right sort of therapy if appropriate, by helping them to read the section about this on this in the yellow book. This is appropriate about two months after a death, not earlier.    

Keep abreast of the folder's contents   

It is very important that you read the folder annually from cover to cover to note updated sections and keep abreast of issues of concern to families aside from the criminal investigation: it is a very useful reminder training tool for you. This gives you a much broader understanding of what they are 'going through'. If there is anything in the folder that you do not understand, or which you think needs improving, contact the helpline on the front of the folder. We value your feedback immensely, and appreciate the challenges of your demanding role.    

Other guides by Brake
If you are based in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, there are regional versions of the bereavement folder produced by Brake, which are distributed in the same way and are freely available.    

If you are a police officer working in one area of the UK, but are helping a family affected by a road death in another area, you may wish us to send you the relevant folder for that area to answer specific questions of the family. Scotland, in particular, has procedures that are somewhat different in many ways to the UK.    

Brake also produces guides on serious injury and on Intensive Care Units. These guides are also available for free and available through the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401.    

Feedback
We value all feedback, but particularly from families - this helps us continue to obtain funding for these free guides. If you are working with a family who has appreciated the literature we have provided, please encourage them, at the appropriate moment, to fill in the freepost feedback forms we provide with most of our literature with their comments - and return it to us. Many thanks for this help.     

Need more folders or other guides?   
If you have run out of Brake literature, contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 and we will replenish your stock free of charge.     

Author: Mary Williams    Last updated: Jan 2008     Copyright Brake    

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Helping bereaved families with the media

Journalists from newspapers, radio or TV programmes often want to cover crashes and court cases that follow. You cannot stop the media from reporting on a case or publishing a family's name and where they are from. Journalists may publish or broadcast stories about a case without talking to a family, or they may phone a family, knock on their door without warning or approach them at a court hearing for a comment. They may ask for a photograph or home video of someone who has died. They may ask to interview or photograph a family member.   

Different people feel differently about the media. Some families may feel grateful for media coverage, or resent it, or feel disappointed that there isn't as much media coverage as they would like. It is up to them whether they talk to journalists or not. They may decide to talk to journalists to help raise awareness of road safety, or to help the police to find witnesses to the crash. They may find that they prefer to talk to some journalists but not to others. They may develop close relationships with some journalists and feel they have become friends. They may decide not to talk to journalists, for personal reasons.    

If a family isn't contacted by journalists but want media coverage, they can contact them themselves, or you may feel able to put in an initial call for the family (see below, however, for official police media relations regarding crashes) to find a relevant, interested journalist to prevent a family feeling snubbed or fobbed off by a busy and potentially rude journalist. A family might want to talk to their local newspaper, radio or TV station. Ring up the news room and ask to talk to the news editor or transport correspondent and take it from there.    

It is vital to tell families if there is anything they shouldn't talk about to journalists. If someone is accused of a death, it is important not to make comments that could create problems for a police investigation or a court case. As well as consulting your SIO, it may be relevant to consult the CPS or Procurator Fiscal (in Scotland) or suggest to the family, also, that they should speak to their personal injury solicitor.

Police help with the media   

The police can often help a family to manage their relationship with the media, particularly in the first few days after the crash or around any court case. The Police Family Liaison Strategy Manual by the Association of Chief Police Officers recommends that police work with families to develop a 'media strategy' that takes into account views of the family on whether they want coverage or not. You can download this strategy from this website.   

The police often release their own statements about crashes and resulting court cases to the media. If you do, it is important to inform the family about your intention to do this, and to give them a copy of anything you produce. It is also important to give families an opportunity to be involved, should they so wish, such as by including a photo or home video they provide, or a statement. In some cases, it may be helpful to organise a press conference for a family, so the majority of media interest is dealt with in one go. This might happen at the end of a court case, or as part of an appeal for witnesses.    

Choosing a photo or home video

When a family is choosing a photo or home video of someone who has died to pass on to the media, it is helpful to advise them to consider how that person would have wanted to be remembered. You can help by arranging for a photo to be altered if necessary- for example, taking a loved one's image from a group photo. Ensure you take good care of the photo and give it back promptly in good condition, particularly if it is an original. If possible, get copies of the photo for the family so they have spares for giving out to other family members or journalists. This is an easy, cheap but incredibly beneficial service for some families - photos are very precious.    

A few families have given the media a photo of a loved one's dead body, or of them critically ill in hospital before they died. They have done this as part of an appeal for witnesses or to explain to the public the horrors of road crashes. Brake has produced a separate Brake briefing on this topic which you can view on this website.    

It is possible to ask the media to use a photo for a specific purpose and on just one occasion, accompanied by specific words from the family, and then ask for the photo not to be used again. It is also possible to release a photo to just one journalist or lots of journalists.    

You are advised not to give original photos or home videos to the media in case they lose them. News rooms can be hectic, messy places.

Being interviewed by a journalist

Being interviewed by a journalist can be hard, particularly if they are a stranger and they are asking a family to talk about how they feel. It can also be particularly hard to do interviews that are being broadcast on radio or TV. If a family decides to talk to a journalist, it can help to ask in advance what questions they want to ask, and to think in advance about what the interviewed person might want to say. If they are doing an interview at a radio or TV station, you might want to offer to accompany them to the interview for support, or ask on behalf of the family if the interview could be done at their home instead.

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Liaising with other agencies providing practical and emotional support

There are a number of key national agencies that can be of enormous assistance to FLOs working with families bereaved by road crashes. Some of them, including Brake, are listed on this webpage within the Brake site.    

In addition, there are many organisations that operate regionally only, from specialist services for children, to more general bereavement care services. It is enormously beneficial to families if you can keep an up to date list of such local agencies, and act as a signposter to these agencies, contacting them on behalf of families if necessary to find out more about their services and any charges.    

Brake Family Liaison Officer Handbook: Logbooks

When an FLO is deployed they must commence an FLO log. The main function of this log is to keep all records of contact with the family and any representatives and other parties connected to them. The log also increases the ability of the police to liaise professionally, particularly if there are several cases being dealt with at any one time.       

The log book is an official police document and is maintained and kept by the FLO. It is supervised and checked at regular intervals by the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) or FLO Co-ordinator, dependant on local policy. Processes will need to exist to retain these records.       

Keeping accurate records is a fundamental principle in the role of family liaison. It provides for effective management of the liaison and ensures an accurate and transparent record of any future review process. The integrity of log keeping is essential and log book pages need to be numbered consecutively.        

Individual police policy will dictate how log books are to be maintained but fundamental principles are that they will be 'original notes' and are bound by disclosure rules by virtue of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. This basically means that police have to record, retain and reveal notes that are made in relation to an investigation.       

It may be that an FLO suspects a member within a family of being involved in an offence or there may be other sensitive issues that need to be brought to the attention of the investigating team. Applications for Public Interest Immunity regarding the disclosure of such issues can then be considered at a later stage.        

A police FLO log will contain some or all of the following types of information:      

  • Details of all strategic and tactical decisions agreed by the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) or FLO Co-ordinator.       
  • Date and Time of all contacts made including meetings and with whom.       
  • Method of contact made, location and whether personal, telephone or other.       
  • Purpose of the contact and information regarding that purpose.       
  • Details of any complaints made by the family/next of kin and action taken to inform the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) and/or FLO Co-ordinator.       
  • Details of any request made by the family/next of kin that has not been acceded to and action taken to inform the SIO and/or FLO Co-ordinator.       
  • Details of who initiated the contact i.e. police, family/next of kin, others.   
  • Details of persons present at meetings including non family/next of kin members.      
  • Details of attempts made to contact family/next of kin, or other persons without success.       
  • Details of attempts made to contact family/next of kin, or other persons which were refused or declined and reasons given for such.       
  • Signatures of FLO, SIO and/or FLO Co-ordinator.        
  • FLO log books may be disclosed in a Criminal, Coroners, Civil Court or public enquiry.
  • Some police services may have their FLO log book sheets in self-carbonating duplicate.       

Copyright David Morgan