Police given new training to deal with bereaved families

West Yorkshire Police has developed a new training package to help police officers to deliver traumatic news to families who have just lost their loved ones.

The Force has been working with a national traumatic bereavement charity – Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) - to develop the comprehensive training package which will be used as a guide when speaking to families.

The project was originally initiated by Gloucestershire Police offering families support in the tragic event of a traumatic bereavement with a leaflet containing both specific and relevant information and guidance.

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The training and the leaflet is being used to guide police officers on delivering extremely distressing news to families, as well as giving them a greater insight around the complexities around this difficult subject.

The programme is supported by the NHS who have offered their Chaplaincy Team for specialist bereavement support to the families, should they wish to use it. It has also raised national interest and already been shared across six other police forces and a number of NHS Trusts.

Greg Shaw, Divisional Training Officer at West Yorkshire Police, said: “We have started working with our police officers to implement this new training guide to help and support the officers deliver life-changing news to those families affected.

“Informing families about the death of a loved one is an extremely difficult task for police officers to undertake, but it is crucial that the families are given all the support and guidance we can give them when going through an unimaginable time.”

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The training has been supported by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, who has agreed that the training package can be shared nationally with any professional organisation which may have to contact the traumatically bereaved.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “Police Officers do a difficult job and often having to tell someone their loved one has died unexpectedly is probably the toughest part of the role. By using this new training guide, officers are being given the appropriate support they need to allow them to provide comfort and strength to bereaved families at an extremely difficult and emotional time.

“I’m pleased we are now sharing this training guide nationally, with organisations who deal with such situations, and hope it makes a difficult task that bit less daunting.”

Trish Thomas, from Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, said: “I would like to thank all involved in the initiative originated by Gloucestershire Police in 2012. The result of the collaboration between the police, NHS and voluntary organisations, has now been expanded by the work done in West Yorkshire to produce this training module.

“These initiatives will be of benefit to both those who in the future experience the tragedy of bereavement and also to the officers involved in ‘one of the worst jobs they have to do’.”