Family liaison in homicide and serious crime investigations Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Family liaison in homicide and serious crime investigations Deck (27)
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under s4 of the victims rights act who is a victim?


a person against whom an offence is committed by another person; and
a person who, through, or by means of, an offence committed by another person, suffers physical injury, or loss of, or damage to, property; and
a parent or legal guardian of a child, or of a young person, who falls within subparagraph (i) or subparagraph (ii), unless that parent or guardian is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
a member of the immediate family of a person who, as a result of an offence committed by another person, dies or is incapable, unless that member is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
for the purposes only of sections 7 and 8, includes—
a person who, through, or by means of, an offence committed by another person, suffers any form of emotional harm; and
a parent or legal guardian of a child, or of a young person, who falls within subparagraph (i), unless that parent or guardian is charged with the commission of, or convicted or found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, the offence concerned; and
a person who has experienced domestic violence; and
a child or young person residing with a person who falls within subparagraph (iii);


What is the role of the family Liaison officer (FLO)?


the day-to-day management of the partnership between the family of the deceased and the Police investigation. The primary function of an FLO is that of an investigator and not a support person. However, in performing this role, the FLO must also offer, facilitate and co-ordinate support that addresses the needs of the family.


What should a family liaison plan consider?

  • selection of the FLO and criteria employed for the selection
  • exit plan for the FLO
  • objectives of the family liaison assessing the most appropriate methods of conducting interviews with family members, including the use of specialist interviewers, where appropriate
  • information to be released to and withheld from, the family
  • requests made by the family which have not been agreed to, and the reasons for this
  • complaints made by the family and the OC Investigation’s action to progress and resolve the issues raised
  • any member of the family who could be considered a suspect, to enable the OC () Investigation to determine whether or not this is the case
  • liaison with Victim Support and other support services.

What is important to note about FLO welfare?


A FLO is continually exposed to the emotions and needs of the bereaved and working with a family can be demanding and stressful. FLOs can become emotionally affected by performing the role. The OC () is responsible for regularly monitoring and supporting the health and welfare of the FLO and should be particularly aware of the dangers of working under high stress. FLOs are under an obligation to inform their line supervisor of any concerns they have in continuing to perform in a specific case or in any future role as FLO.


For a family liaison who is included under the term family?

  • includes partners, parents, siblings, children, guardians, whänau and any others who have had a direct and close relationship with the victim
  • includes ‘chosen’ family
  • should reflect the victim’s culture and lifestyle.

When assessing the risk of the appointment of the FLO, what should they consider?

  • the suitability of the officer for retention in the role
  • whether additional FLOs should be appointed
  • the needs and wishes of the family.
Where a family member is suspected of being involved in the offence, the OC Investigation must take great care and assess any risks associated with deploying an FLO.
The OC () Investigation must review the plan regularly, which should consider:
  • the FLO’s welfare and safety
  • increased monitoring of the FLO’s work and interaction with the family
  • the level of information disclosure to the FLO and, in turn, the family
  • the process by which any intelligence that arises from FLO contact with the family will be managed
  • the need for the FLO to be clear in their interactions with the family
  • the importance of fully documenting all contact and interactions with the family
  • the possibility of deploying a more experienced FLO if appropriate
  • the deployment of a deputy FLO for corroboration issues in addition to supporting the principal FLO
  • not using the FLO in any search or arrest of a family member
  • investigative or evidential impact of deployment
  • whether or not the FLO will reside with the family. This may be an option in cases of kidnap for ransom where Police negotiators are in contact with the suspect. Such a deployment must only be undertaken after a meticulous consideration of the safety of the FLO.

Should you deploy a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) to a suspects family?


Where appropriate, the OC () Investigation should consider deploying an FLO to the family of a suspect. The suspect’s family may be an important source of material that could assist the investigation, and may themselves be victims who deserve the assistance of Police to access support services.


What is the primary purpose of an FLO?


The FLO is primarily an investigative role and any urgent information they discover must be conveyed quickly to the OC () Investigation, such as whether any family members are vulnerable or significant witnesses, or whether any family member should be considered a suspect.


What should the FLO do at the earliest opportunity?


The FLO must inform the family of the existence of Victim Support at the earliest appropriate opportunity and then inform the OC () Investigation of the family’s wishes


Before meeting the family, which should occur as soon as possible, the FLO must:

  • liaise closely with the OC () Investigation regarding parameters of information to be shared with and/or held back from the family
  • familiarise themselves with the enquiry
  • familiarise themselves with all information established concerning the family
  • familiarise themselves with available information and intelligence which could impact on the liaison role
  • establish what contact the family has had with Police since the incident/death
  • establish what information has been given to the family
  • establish what information concerning the incident is already in the public domain

The FLO will need to make an assessment to determine the interview requirements of family members and friends of the victim. This will enable the investigation team to identify which individuals require interviewing and to assess in respect of each witness:

  • whether due to the personal characteristics of the witness or the circumstances of the offending, the witness requires special consideration
  • the availability of the witness
  • any particular needs the witness has for assistance
  • the optimum approach to be taken when approaching and interviewing the witness.

What should the FLO begin at the start of an inquiry?


At the beginning of an enquiry the FLO must commence a dedicated notebook to record all contact with family/next of kin, intermediaries and other parties connected to the family. The notebook should be reviewed at regular intervals by the OC () Investigation or their nominated deputy.


During the early stages the FLO must:

  • provide immediate appropriate information to the family concerning the death of the victim and explain to the family what happens next in respect of the body
  • provide the family/NOK with the Coronial booklet “When someone dies”
  • establish from family members any immediate evidence, information or rumors, which they may be aware of, so that this can be passed directly to the OC Investigation for urgent attention
  • act quickly and effectively informing the OC Investigation without delay should a family or individual express concern for their personal safety or have been subject to threats or intimidation and require Police protection or assistance
  • give or facilitate initial practical support for members of the family
  • as far as possible, protect the family from unwarranted media intrusion
  • arrange temporary housing when the family home has been designated as a crime scene or a protracted search of the victim’s home is anticipated.
  • where appropriate and on direction of the OC Investigation, arrange for the Crown Solicitor to meet the family to explain decisions taken.

How old can a victim impact statement be?


No older that 28 days


Through Victim Support, the Government provides financial assistance on behalf of the Crown Solicitor for victims of serious crime towards the costs of dealing with the incident and attending court and other criminal justice processes. This includes:

  • a discretionary grant of up to $1500 for families of homicide victims
  • free counselling for families of murder and manslaughter victims. Initially six hours are approved with the option to increase to 15 hours. Counselling up to a maximum of 30 hours may be approved if required.

What costs can ACC help with?


the costs of their

  • burial
  • cremation
  • related ceremonies

What information should the families be notified of?

  • programmes, remedies, or services available through Police to the family as victims in their own right (refer section 11)
  • progress of the investigation (a legal requirement under section 12)
  • the family’s role as witnesses in the prosecution of the offence.

Where an offender is arrested, the FLO (in consultation with the OC () Investigation) must:


-inform the family of their rights to register on the victim notification register, and provide a POL 1065 form if they wish to do so
-make all reasonable efforts to ascertain any views the family have on the accused being released on bail, and ensure these views are communicated to the court in a Grounds for
Opposing Bail Police Form 128 or, where Police are not opposing bail, in a covering report to Prosecutions (Victim Rights Act 2002, sections 29 and 30).
-inform the victim’s family of:
=charges laid or reasons why charges are not laid, and any changes to the charges laid =the date and place of each Court appearance of the accused or other Court hearing relating to the case
=release on bail of the accused
=any application made by the accused, for suppression of name or other identifying particulars under section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. The victim’s family’s views about the application must be ascertained and provided to the Court (refer section 28). The victim’s family must also be informed of the outcome of such an application.
=details of bail conditions the accused is subject to. Note: This information must not be disclosed if it would contravene an order under section 19 Bail Act 2000 prohibiting the publication of matters related to a bail hearing.


What is important to note relating to evidence about a victims home address?


Information that identifies or which may lead to the identification of the victim’s home address may only be given in evidence or information provided to a Court (for example in an Information or summary of facts) with leave of a Judicial officer. Identifying information includes a residential, postal or email address or telephone number


Should the FLO be involved in any suspect identification procedures?




When examining the lifestyle of a victim, sources of information frequently fall into one of two categories, what are they?


People and passive data


When examining the lifestyle of a victim, sources of information frequently fall into one of two categories: people and passive data. What are examples of ‘people’?

  • friends
  • colleagues
  • partners
  • associates
  • online or social media contacts
  • hobbies and habits
  • travel movements
  • people along the routes they were known to take
  • customers or suppliers
  • religious leaders or associates
  • cultural associations
  • other people that they come into contact with.

When examining the lifestyle of a victim, sources of information frequently fall into one of two categories: people and passive data. What are examples of ‘passive data’?

  • NIA
  • CID
  • medical history
  • mental health records
  • Human Source Management Unit (HSMU
  • landline telephone details and associated enquiries
  • mobile telephone records
  • Internet usage
  • vehicle details
  • banking and other financial material
  • diaries, letters and personal documents
  • photographs and video footage
  • passport and immigration data.

Property should be returned to family members by the FLO. When authorised by the OC () Investigation, the FLO should liaise with the OC Exhibits regarding the return of property. These issues should be considered:

  • What property does the family wish to be returned?
  • How do they want the property returned
  • Are there likely to be any delays in the return of any property?
  • Property should be inspected to ensure all Police and Court exhibit tags have been removed.

The FLO must not issue any statements to the media unless specifically requested to do so by the OC Investigation, in consultation with the Media Liaison Officer. The family should be prepared for possible media interest and the FLO should take steps to:

  • prepare the victim’s family for the anticipated level of media interest and provide them with a copy of the “Media information letter to family of the deceased”
  • establish the family’s views on any media appeals
  • request the family to nominate a spokesperson
  • consult the family before the release of personal details relating to the victim
  • where possible, provide copies of media releases to the family before distribution
  • inform the victim’s family of significant developments in the investigation before releasing such information to the media, where it is appropriate to do so
  • appraise the OC investigation of media activity around the family
  • request approval from the victim’s family to release a photograph of the victim and where practical, respect their choice of photograph. It is important, however, for Police to make an objective appreciation of which photograph is most appropriate as the choice of photograph may influence public response.

What should the family be advised of post conviction?

  • their rights under the part 3 of the Victims’ Rights Act 2002
  • Advised they can participate in the process whether an offender is granted parole.
  • They have the opportunity to be advised of the offenders release from prison.