Family Liaison Officers Available and Trained

 ‘When a policeman puts his uniform on, he should forget all his prejudices. If he cannot do that, then he should not be doing the job because that means that one part of the population is not protected from the likes of those who murdered Stephen.’

 

 

Neville Lawrence (Father of Stephen Lawrence)

Since the report in 1999 there has been a lot of focus on improving the training of Family Liaison Officers (FLO’s). FLO’s are being trained more thoroughly to make relationships with the family they are working with and how to support them appropriately. Whilst at the same time ensuring the information between the family and investigating team runs smoothly. The Metropolitan police website indicates that there is now over 1000 fully trained FLO’s in the Metropolitan Police Service as well as 163 coordinators to make sure that training for the FLO’s is maintained.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) Family Liaison Officer Guide 2008 in

Section 1: The role of the Family Liaison Coordinator under the subtitle ‘Strategic Support’ states how a Family Liaison Coordinator should support the senior investigating officers with regards to making use of ‘skills of a particular FLO in terms of culture, lifestyle diversity, knowledge or experience base.’

The same guide states that after the training of a Family Liaison Officer the student must be able to ‘Outline the potential issues in relation to ethnicity, culture and lifestyle diversity when dealing with a bereaved family e.g. death rites and funerals.’

Section 4: ‘Selection and Deployment’ of this guide outlines that a FLO with specialist skills or qualities may be required (having received the appropriate additional training) in particular cases when investigating the murder of a child, in a split or extended family, in communicating with minority ethnic victim, gay, lesbian, or bisexual victim, non-English speaking family, vulnerable or intimidated witnesses.

Under the subtitle ‘Independent Advisory Groups’ of the same section it states how it is important in the event that the ‘family liaison has been ineffective’ that it would be beneficial to set up an advisory group. If an independent advisory group was to be set up then the group should be as diverse as society. The group’s members could include Racial Equality Council members, religious leaders, minority and community interest group representatives or family members in previous cases.

In Section 7: Family Liaison in Mass Fatality Incidents under the subtitle ‘Operating Protocols’ it describes how important it is that if the family of the victim are from a ‘minority group or particular lifestyle diversity’ then the FLO for this family should have experience/knowledge in that area of society. Following this point the document states that in the event of an incident such as a terrorist attack when a minority community has been affected, it is important that before a family liaison strategy is written up, advice is sought from an advocate in that area ‘so that it reflects the needs of the communities at that time’.

Appendix 6: ‘Support Agencies’ under the subtitle ‘Additional Support’ suggests that ‘in cases where the victim is from a minority ethnic community, from a diverse lifestyle background or a hard-to-reach or hard-to-hear group, it is particularly important that the FLO makes proactive use of local community contacts to guide, advice and support the family liaison as appropriate.’

This reflects an increased sensitivity to help the service head in the right direction to respond to Britain’s diverse society.

As described on the Metropolitan Police website, family liaison officers have become more professional as they have been specifically trained to build up relationships with families of victims. This helps support them and ensures the flow of information run smoothly between the family and the investigating team. 

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011