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M96 Family Liaison Officers

1. Security protective marking

1.1. Not protectively marked.

2. Summary of changes

2.1. The following changes have been made to this policy on 25 February 2013:

  • Paragraphs 6.6. has the required PIP levels updated. 

2.2. This policy is scheduled for full review in January 2015.

3. Application

3.1.  This policy applies to all police officers, police staff and Family Liaison Officers (FLOs).

4. Purpose

4.1. The purpose of this policy is to set out how the selection, training, deployment and welfare needs of designated Family Liaison Officers (FLO) will be undertaken in accordance with the more detailed guidance laid down in the Murder Investigation Manual, the Road Death Investigation Manual and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Family Liaison Officer Guidance 2008. It acknowledges the pivotal role that these officers play in maintaining and establishing meaningful links between Senior Investigating Officers (SIO)/Senior Identification Managers (SIM) and the family of deceased/seriously injured victims. SIOs and SIMs are encouraged to refer to the above manuals where more detailed guidance is given.


4.2. This policy also seeks to draw clarity concerning the role of an FLO appointed following a fatal road traffic collision, homicide or any other incident where deployment is deemed necessary e.g. other death investigation, major disaster or an incident resulting in life changing injuries, etc. It is acknowledged that the practices involved in the process of family liaison will vary depending on the nature of the incident or investigation. For the purposes of this policy the lead investigator in all incidents where an FLO is appointed will be known as the SIO/SIM regardless of the rank of the individual.


4.3. This policy covers all aspects of FLO work – crime, roads policing and mass disaster.


4.4. The policy lead for all aspects of family liaison  is the Detective Superintendent Major Crime.

 5. Primary goals of family liaison 

5.1.  The primary goals of family liaison are:

    • To provide a documented, two-way communication channel between family and police, which is fully recorded using the family liaison log.
    • To gather evidence and information from the family in a sensitive manner which contributes to and preserves the integrity of the police investigation/action.
    • To mitigate, as far as possible, any negative effects of the investigation and criminal justice processes through the provision of timely information and practical support to the family.
    • To contribute to a co-ordinate d response to the needs of families, ensuring that family members are given information about support agencies including the provision of “Home Office Information Pack for Families of Homicide Victims” in respect of homicide cases and “BRAKE Manual” in road crash cases. To ensure that referrals are made to Victim Support, H.M. Coroner (as instructed by the SIO/SIM) and other agencies in accordance with the victim/families wishes.
    • To assist in the management of the media response and issues of intimidation which may arise for the family.

 6. Selection 

 

6.1. Family Liaison Coordinators and managers must ensure their BCU has sufficient FLOs ( Family Liaison Officers) to meet future demands. The turnover of FLO volunteers can be high.

6.1.1. Careful consideration is required as to the suitability of the people to be trained to work with families. They must be volunteers, have a clear and reasoned motive, reflecting genuine commitment for wishing to train and practice as an FLO. They will be required to act with the highest degree of professionalism and sensitivity.


6.2.  Those wishing to be considered for FLO training and deployment should apply through a line manager to the local FLO Coordinator (using 1068 report form). The form will be reviewed by a line manager/supervisor (with knowledge of the applicant) who will consider the suitability of the individual against the FLO role requirement including a review of the applicant’s most recent staff appraisal.


6.3.  On receipt of the application, the local FLO Coordinator (accompanied by the applicant’s line manager if considered necessary) will meet with the applicant and discuss the applicant’s current circumstances with particular consideration to recent bereavements, any stress-related sickness and previous dealings with victims including formal complaints in this regard.


6.4.  Following assessment by the FLO Coordinator, the applicant will undertake an assessment at Welfare and Counselling Services. This will determine their emotional and psychological preparedness for the role. Following successful assessment, the applicant will be deemed suitable for training. If the Welfare Officer advises against FLO training and deployment a brief, discreet record (together with a review date if appropriate) will be retained in the applicant’s personal file.


6.5.  Whilst the force recognises this may be perceived as a lengthy or bureaucratic process it is necessary to ensure everyone selected is capable (technically and emotionally) to sustain such a demanding role for both their own welfare and that of the families with whom they interact and to support the professionalism of the investigation.

 

6.6. If possible, Crime FLOs should be or have been PIP level 2 and Roads POlicing FLOs should be PIP level 1.  This is not always possible and it is more desirable that the FLO be selected for their suitability on a range of skills and experience.


6.7.  Some Police Staff Employees (PSEs) have expressed interest in family liaison work. Before any staff employee is considered for training they should qualify on each of the following three criteria:

    • passes appropriate character and welfare history assessment;
    • has significant crime or fatal road crash investigation experience; and
    • has their senior management team approval for being abstracted from their normal employment for considerable periods.


6.8.  Family liaison work will invariably be outside their current job description and may well go beyond what is in their contract of employment, so it is therefore important that there is clear understanding that they have agreed to undertake the additional duties on a voluntary basis.


6.9.  Any staff employee selected and trained as a FLO, before deployment as such, will be required to sign a declaration regarding the voluntary nature of their FLO role - see Appendix A .

 

7. Training 

7.1.  Those who are deployed as an FLO must, other than in exceptional cases, have completed a relevant FLO course, which meets the requirements set out in the ACPO Family Liaison Strategy Manual. It is recognised that there may be some exceptional circumstances where this is not possible and suitable management support systems must be in place to provide adequate guidance and support to untrained FLOs. This exception relates only to police officers; no untrained staff employee must ever be deployed as an FLO.


7.2.  The reasons for the decision to deploy an untrained FLO must be documented in the investigation/incident policy file.

 

7.3. New FLOs will undergo the training programme devised by National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA). Upon completion of this training, they will become nationally accredited by NPIA.


     
7.4.  This training will consist of a combined programme for both crime and roads traffic policing officers.  Upon selection individuals will attend an information morning. This will take place six weeks prior to the combined course. They will be provided with a distance learning package containing required and recommended reading material plus questions based upon the reading. The questions will be completed prior to the course in order to establish a shared knowledge foundation. Those who have not completed the questions will not continue with the course until they have done so.

 

7.5. The combined course will be seven days in duration. It will include the following topics

  • Role of the FLO
  • Actions upon deployment
  • Role of the Coroner’s Officer
  • CPIA
  • FLO logs
  • Role of the media
  • Role of Victim Support
  • BrakeCare
  • VSS Homicide
  • Welfare and bereavement
  • Victimology
  • Risk assessment
  • Road traffic policing case study
  • Crime Case Study 
  • Role of the IPCC
  • Tissue donation
  • Cultural considerations
  • The personal development profile
  • The compassionate friends
  • Victim personal statements
  • Statements
     
    There will be a knowledge check to reinforce learning.

7.6. Upon completion of the combined course FLOs will be required to complete a workplace assessment in the form of a Personal Development Portfolio (PDP).

 

7.7. A Mentor will be allocated to the FLO and will be deployed together with the FLO on their first deployment. Only in exceptional circumstances will an FLO complete their first deployment without a buddy or tutor. The reasons for this will be fully documented and they must be supervised by a suitable trained person i.e. FLC.

 

7.8. Upon completion of the PDP it will be forwarded to Kent Police Training College for internal verification.

 

7.9. Following verification the PDP will be returned to the FLC who will facilitate an accreditation interview with a FLM The decision to accredit FLOs will ultimately be owned by Area.

 

7.10. Upon accreditation of the FLO the FLC will update KPC where a record will be kept of all accredited FLOs.

 

7.11. There will be annual continued professional development for all existing FLOs. This will be the responsibility of KPC.

 

 8. Deployment 

8.1.  The decision to deploy a FLO sits with the SIO/SIM in all cases. The FLO is a voluntary role and will only be deployed in consultation with the FLC and the completion of a risk assessment as per form ‘A’. Due to the dynamic nature of incidents it may be that an officer has contact with the family prior to appointment or arrival of the SIO/SIM. Even if that officer is trained as an FLO it should be understood that they are not formally deployed in an FLO capacity until agreed by the SIO/SIM. As such, they should not raise the family’s expectations in terms of not having to deal with other officers.

 

8.2. Where the death of a police employee is involved, consideration should be given to whether the FLO knows the person, has ever worked with them or works on the same area.


8.3.  The reason for this is that the appointment of a FLO should be a considered process, as outlined below, and an inappropriate deployment could jeopardise the investigation and/or the effective liaison with the family.

 

8.4. FLOs do not necessarily need to be deployed to deliver a ‘trauma message’. This is a core policing skill. 


8.5. The first stage in the deployment process will be identification of the “family” which may be complicated by the family being split through divorce or other internal dynamics. The SIO/SIM (especially in homicide investigations) will need to consider these family dynamics in detail to ensure the most effective and appropriate FLO deployment. The needs of the investigation will affect the type of FLO selected. The FLO will need to be a skilled investigator and statement taker playing a major part in the investigative process.

 

8.6. It is not always necessary to call in and deploy an FLO at night where one is not available. It must be an informed SIO decision based on the specific circumstances.


8.7. The general policy should be that an FLO is deployed from within the Basic Command Unit (BCU) where the family live, not necessarily where the incident occurred.


8.8.  In cases where more than one FLO is deployed, care must be taken to ensure the accurate coordination of information flow to the family. In multiple deployments, the FLOs involvement should be considered in detail in order to ensure consistency. As a general guide, back up FLOs should be deployed to each identified family group particularly in protracted cases to allow support for each other and cover for annual leave and other long-term commitments.


8.9.  In all cases, the SIO/SIM will consider a proportionate response to the deployment depending on the circumstances of the incident and the availability of appropriate staff.


8.10.  In all cases the deployment decision will be recorded and will take into consideration the following:

    • Any recent bereavement or trauma the FLO has suffered;
    • Workload ;
    • Frequency of recent employment in the role;
    • Previous employment and performance in the role;
    • Availability - annual leave, court commitments etc;
    • Any previous contact or knowledge of the family;
    • Family needs and circumstances - gender, race, sexual orientation, religion/culture, age or language barriers may be an issue for the family and the SIO/SIM must be sensitive to these matters;
    • Any identifiable stress generators during recent or coming months, whether of a personal or professional nature; and 
    • Skills requirements. The force FLO matrix will indicate those with particular skills.


8.11.  In the event of a deployment request, it is the responsibility of each individual FLO to bring to the immediate attention of the local Family Liaison Co-ordinator any reason why they may not be suitable to be deployed to a specific incident.


8.13.  A risk assessment will be completed in respect of each deployment and this will be recorded on the appropriate FLO risk assessment forms. The SIO/SIM will consider the risk assessment and decide on suitability of the individual FLO. The SIO/ SIM’s decision will be recorded in the investigation/identification policy file.

 9. Family Liaison Officer co-ordination 

9.1.  To assist in selection, deployment and welfare matters, Area Command Teams/Heads of Department will be responsible for appointing a Family Liaison Coordinator to coordinate FLOs on their area/department. This officer should be a suitably skilled supervisor. They will also nominate an officer (Inspector or above) who will provide management support to the Area Family Liaison Coordinator.


9.2.  Local Family Liaison Coordinators will be trained in Family Liaison Coordination and will, ideally, be FLO trained. They will maintain records of local FLOs and the information recorded will be as directed by the force FLO Coordinator to ensure appropriate support and deployment decisions.


9.3.  The Force FLO Coordinator is designated as the Detective Superintendent Major Crime. He/she will ensure each area maintains a database listing details of all their FLOs including welfare and deployment details.


9.4.  Changes in circumstances will be amended on the database by the local area/department Family Liaison Coordinator. This information will be made available, upon request, to the force Coordinator to ensure he/she maintains a comprehensive overview of FLO management.


9.5.  An FLO is a county resource and occasions may arise where a policing area or department does not have a suitable FLO for deployment. In these circumstances, the SIO/SIM (or the local Coordinator) will need to negotiate with another area/department to ensure a suitable FLO is found. Any difficulties or disputes may need to be referred to the force FLO Coordinator for resolution.


9.6.  Only in exceptional circumstances should a Family Liaison Coordinator undertake the role of FLO and should only be carried out with the approval of the force Coordinator who will ensure adequate supervision and support.

 10. Family Liaison Officer communication 

10.1.  FLOs must be provided with suitable means to effectively communicate with the family and investigation staff without relying on their personal telephones. On protracted major enquiries, if the FLO is not already issued with a force mobile telephone one should be obtained from Engineering Services and the costs met from that operation’s funding.

 11. Welfare 

11.1.  The local Area/Department Family Liaison Co-ordinator will ensure all deployed or deployable FLOs are subject to an annual de-briefing by Welfare and Counselling Services. This will be compulsory and any person refusing to attend will no longer be deployed as an FLO. More frequent or specific welfare de-briefs will be arranged if deemed necessary by the local co-ordinator, SIO or the FLO themselves.


11.2.  The incidents at which an FLO may be deployed are varied in complexity, length and commitment. As such it is not possible to dictate a standard welfare response to each case. However, the welfare of the FLO is the ultimate responsibility of the SIO/SIM.


11.3.  On a regular basis, when reasonably practicable to do so, the SIO/SIM or their deputy will be briefed by the FLO and the welfare of the FLO must form part of this exchange. The local Family Liaison Coordinator should be involved in this process to ensure they are aware of all prevailing issues in respect of that FLO and the deployment. In certain cases, the SIO/SIM may decide to impose compulsory referral(s) to Welfare and Counselling Services during the investigation.


11.4.  In addition to the SIO/SIM's responsibilities above there is also an onus on the FLOs themselves to inform the SIO/SIM of any factors which make their continued deployment inappropriate, whether that be in relation to their own personal circumstances or views from within the family

12. Retention and disposal of records

12.1. Documents mentioned in the above policy will be retained for the period specified in the supporting disposal schedule

13. Equality impact assessment

13.1. This policy has been assessed with regards to its relevance to equality impact. As a result of this assessment the policy has been graded as having a medium potential impact.

 

13.2. Attached is the latest equality impact assessment that forms part of the policy review process.

 

Policy reference: M96 Family Liaison Officers
Policy owner: Detective Chief Superintendent, Crime and Intelligence
Contact point: Policy Unit
Date last reviewed: 25 January 2012
Document last saved: 05 March 2013