Help from the police

The police may or may not have contacted you already, for example to tell you about the crash if you were not involved in it.

What the police do

The police attend the scene of crashes and are responsible for investigating crashes to collect any evidence that might indicate a crime and could be used to prosecute someone.

Your police contact

Whether or not you have talked to the police already, the police should provide the name of an officer who you can talk to.

The police should give you details of an officer responsible for that investigation, usually called the Senior Investigating Officer, and any other police officer you can also talk to.

Help from your police contact

The police can:

  • help with immediate things, such as informing other people about the crash who need to know, such as other family members
  • give you basic details of what has happened, that may be needed by a solicitor or an insurance company
  • return belongings to you, found in a vehicle or at the scene
  • tell you the location of a vehicle you own, if it was involved and they are examining it
  • keep you informed about the progress of their investigation and whether anyone has been arrested, or charged, or is on bail (although they will not be able to discuss evidence with you)
  • put you in touch with a criminal prosecution agency, if it is decided to prosecute somebody for a crime, or if it is decided not to.

Depending on your case, the police may help with other things, such as:

  • helping you visit the scene of the crash, if you were not in the crash and want to go
  • helping you manage media interest in your case
  • providing information and support later on, for example if there is a court case.

You may want to ask your police contact when it is best for you to contact them, so they have time to talk and can have information ready for you.

Help from a police Family Liaison Officer

You may or may not be offered help from a Family Liaison Officer, a police officer with special training in helping families.

If someone from your family has also died in the crash, a Family Liaison Officer should always be offered to you. If no-one has died in your family, but someone has suffered injuries that are life-threatening or life-changing, it is best practice for a Family Liaison Officer to be offered to you, but this depends on the availability of this service where you live.

If you have not been offered a Family Liaison Officer, you can ask if this is possible, particularly if injuries are severe and there is a likelihood that someone will be charged with a crime.

The police have produced guidelines on family liaison that they should follow. You can access these guidelines at www.brake.org.uk/codes-and-standards

The police, prosecution agencies, and courts are required to meet certain standards, that aim to help victims of crime. These standards are written into government codes of practice.

These codes say it is important that victims should be:

  • given the opportunity to write a victim statement
  • helped to understand what is happening, for example if someone is charged with a crime, court dates, and what will happen in court
  • treated with respect and have their voice heard during criminal proceedings
  • given support during the process of criminal proceedings, for example if attending a court case.

If, in your case, it is possible that someone may be charged with a crime, these codes are there to help you.

For more information, you can access these government codes of practice at www.brake.org.uk/codes-and-standards

If your loved one is in hospital, some people may need to know soon, such as:

  • other family members or friends
  • an employer of an injured person, or their family members
  • a school attended by an injured child, or a child whose loved one has been injured
  • a specialist solicitor to represent you
  • a motor insurer, if a vehicle was involved in the crash
  • a house insurer, if an injured person’s house is unoccupied
  • neighbours.

You can choose to get in touch with people yourself, or ask someone to help you do this.

If you cannot find someone's contact details, the police may be able to help.

There may be everyday responsibilities that need to be taken over by others, quickly, such as care of children, the elderly, pets or property.

  • Family, friends and neighbours may be able to help.
  • You may also need help from social services or health services, or charities.

If you need help finding services to meet your needs, contact the National Road Victim Service.

If an injured person is conscious and able to make decisions, they should be involved in any practical decisions that affect them.