Information for Bereaved Families and Friends Following Murder or Culpable Homicide
Section 1 Important Contacts
1.1 Key contacts for keeping in touch
1.2 The police Family Liaison Officer (FLO)
1.3 The Victim Information and Advice (VIA) Officer
1.1 Key Contacts for Keeping in Touch
You can use this section to help you keep a note of the names, addresses and phone numbers of the main people you might need to speak to about what is happening.
For advice and information about the progress of the investigation and the legal system in general:
The police Family Liaison Officer (FLO):
Duty hours contact number:
Out of hours office contact:
For registering concerns or complaints about the investigation:
The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO):
Postal address and telephone number:
The Procurator Fiscal (PF)
For advice about the criminal prosecution (and the post mortem, its outcome and likely timing of release of the body for the funeral):
The Procurator Fiscal:
Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service
Victim Information and Advice (VIA) Officer:
For information about the progress of the criminal prosecution:
For practical help and information and someone to talk to in confidence:
Your local Victim Support Scotland (VSS) service:
(or the VSS national helpline on 0845 603 9213 or 0845 30 30 900)
For support from groups who may have been through similar situations:
Families of Murdered Children (FOMC):
Helpline: 01698 336646
24 hour contact: 0777 562 6779
You may also find it helpful to keep your GP's contact details in this section:
1.2 The Police Family Liaison Officer
Who is the Family Liaison Officer (FLO)?
Very soon after a death you will be introduced to a specially trained police officer known as a Family Liaison Officer (FLO). He or she has received training about the needs of people bereaved in circumstances like yours. FLOs are also experienced investigators.
Your FLO will provide you with a telephone number or numbers where you will be able to contact them, and they will tell you when they will be available. They will work with you throughout the police investigation and may be assisted by other FLOs.
What is the role of the FLO?
The FLO acts as a contact point between you and the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) who has the job of directing all parts of the investigation. The FLO is part of the investigation team and has specific tasks to carry out. They have two main functions:
- To gather all available information from you and other family members about the deceased person and to pass that information on to the SIO; and
- To act as a point of contact between you and the SIO, and to keep you updated about developments in the investigation.
The FLO will also:
- help you with immediate tasks, such as identifying the body
- keep you informed about the progress of the investigation
- with your consent, ensure you are referred to your local victim support service or other voluntary group
- during the police investigation, provide you with advice and guidance about how the criminal justice system works
- help you to manage any media interest in the case
- help answer any questions you may have, or direct you towards someone else who can help.
If your family is estranged or separated, the FLO will arrange to notify other people of the death. They will do this either on your behalf or because the relationship of the other people to the deceased means they are entitled to information.
Will the FLO be involved throughout proceedings?
The FLO will work with you for a limited time and then hand over the liaison role to those who will prosecute the case. More details of how and when this will be done are given in the next section.
Liaison between the FLO and those who will prosecute any criminal case
From an early stage, the FLO will liaise with the Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service. VIA is part of the Scottish prosecution service, called the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). The next section gives more information about the VIA service and the arrangements for liaison between the FLO and the VIA Officer.
There is space in section 1.1 for you to write down the FLO's telephone number.
1.3 The Victim Information and Advice (VIA) Officer
Who is the VIA Officer?
The VIA Officer is there to update you about progress on the case and refer you to organisations that can provide counselling and support if that would be helpful.
When your case is referred to the Procurator Fiscal, a VIA Officer will be assigned to provide you with information and advice about what is happening. Because they work for the Procurator Fiscal, they have direct access to information about the case.
What is the role of the VIA Officer?
Your VIA Officer will be able to advise the FLO of the outcome of preliminary court proceedings. For example, they will explain if the accused is in custody or has been released.
The FLO will withdraw from the case and pass responsibility for giving you information to the VIA Officer. When this happens will depend on the circumstances of the case. It may be after the funeral, after the accused first appears in court, or it may be later if police investigations have not been completed.
A meeting will be held so that you can meet the VIA Officer before the FLO withdraws from the case. Until that meeting has taken place, all liaison with you will be through the FLO.
VIA Officers provide information and advice up to the end of the criminal case, including any appeal. After this, they will only be able to assist where families are seeking further information about what happened in court. However, VIA can give you information about sources of support that can help after the court case is over ( see also section 7).
To find out more about VIA, call 01382 341185 or go to www.crownoffice.gov.uk click on "information" and then "Are you a victim of crime?"