Police Service of Northern Ireland

Care provided after death:

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has responsibilities when people die in sudden and unexpected circumstances. These can include identifying the person who has died and their next of kin, breaking news of the death, and conducting investigations on behalf of the Coroners Service for Northern Ireland.

In circumstances where death is suspected to be as a result of suicide, the investigating officer will complete form SD1 and will forward this to the designated officer in the relevant health care trust. If there is permission from the family, they may then be contacted by the health care trust to be offered support.

A bereaved family may be allocated a Family Liaison Officer who will support them over an extended period of time, treating them appropriately, professionally, with respect and according to their diverse needs, and communicating effectively and inclusively with them while:

  • Investigating the circumstances of death
  • Gathering material from the family in a manner which contributes to the investigation and preserves its integrity
  • Providing information to, and linking with, other organisations to ensure ongoing care and support for the family
  • Securing the confidence and trust of the family, thereby enhancing their contribution to the investigation
  • Analysing the needs, concerns and expectations of the family in order to identify all relevant and realistic action
  • Working with the family in order to comply with their right to receive all relevant information connected with the enquiry, subject to the needs of the investigation

Works alongside:

  • NI Coroner’s Office, Court, Legal system
  • Northern Ireland Regional Forensic Mortuary
  • Medical staff- Acute and Community
  • Dentist
  • Funeral Directors
  • Community representatives
  • Social services
  • Foreign and Commonwealth office
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Other police services
  • NI Forensic Service (Seapark)
  • Community and Voluntary Sector eg Cruse, Brake

The Standard of Bereavement Care is enhanced when:

  • Consideration is given to any action which may impact on the bereavement experience of the family
  • Good communication takes place between all services supporting the family at the time of and after death to aid the investigation/identify cause of death
  • Information i.e. web or postal address, leaflets or details of local support organisations is available.  Signposting is of paramount importance as the role of the police officer is not to become the main point of contact for all difficulties that a family may experience.
  • Officers completing the SD1 form in the case of a suspected suicide ensure that families are aware that suicide is suspected. And also that they offer the next of kin the opportunity for support and ensure that contact details and any other relevant information are added to the form .

Standards and Guidelines:

Service procedure 30/2004 Police investigations into unexpected, unexplained or suspicious deaths


Coroners Service NI guidance: