The Police Involvement:
The Police will try to inform people about a death as quickly as possible. They may not know everyone who should be contacted, but if you tell them the names they will contact people for you, if you do not wish to do this yourself.
Personal possessions of your ‘Loved-One’
Depending on the circumstances it may be that personal possessions cannot be returned straight away. Ask the Family Liaison Officer if the personal belongings will be used as evidence in a prosecution if so, it may be a long time before the items can be released. If a prosecution is brought and someone is convicted, the property may still need to be retained until that person is released from prison. Where property is used as evidence at Court there is not clear time limit as to when it can be given to the victim’s family. Depending on what it is and what evidence it provided, the Police can sometimes be able to photograph it and return it to you after any Trial or Appeal.
There may be media-interest in the death of your ‘loved-one’...as well as interest in the person’s family and friends. This interest can sometimes be difficult, or even impossible to avoid and such publicity may add to your distress and suffering. However, it is important to remember that the media can play an important role in the investigation, therefore you may feel it useful and of benefit to co-operate. The Police have Press Officers who are very supportive and skilled in dealing with media intrusion. Your FLO will encourage you to consult with the Police Press Officer and the Senior Investigating Officer before you speak to the media, to ensure you do not inadvertently say anything that could compromise the investigation.
Newspapers & Pictures:
Newspapers/Reporters often want pictures of those who died or of their families, and will sometimes go to great lengths to get them. Your FLO will usually suggest that you give them a photograph of the person who has died (showing them in a way that you wish them to be remembered). They will arrange for copies to be made and give them out to the Press you may also ask the FLO to arrange for a suitable person to speak about the case i.e. the SIO or Police Press Officer or to read out a statement on your behalf.
The press will usually be sensitive to the situation, however, you may feel that you do not wish to co-operate with the media. It may be that their interest in you or your ’loved-one’ that has died, intrusive or too distressing. If this is the case, then you should tell your FLO as soon as possible…as they may not be able to prevent the intrusion totally, but can take steps to reduce the level of impact. For example, it may be possible to persuade the Editor of the Newspaper concerned to withdraw a comment, or a complaint could be made to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).
Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO):
IPSO is the independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry. It exists to promote and uphold the highest professional standards of journalism in the UK, and to support members of the public in seeking redress where they believe that the Editors' Code of Practise has been breached. They are able to consider concerns about editorial content in newspapers and magazines, and about the conduct of journalists. IPSO can also assist with pre-publication concerns. This might be about information which you believe may soon be published, or the conduct of journalists. They can act to prevent unwanted approaches from journalists, or harassment, and in emergency can be contacted 24hrs a day.
Further information about IPSO can be found on: www.ipso.co.uk
What can I do if I am Unhappy with the Media Reporting?
Broadcasters should deal sensitively with these matters and complaints should be directed to them if they don’t. If you have a more serious concern, you should contact the relevant Broadcasting Regulatory Body...The Governors of the BBC The Independent Television Commission (ITC). The Welsh Fourth Channel Authority The Radio Authority The Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) provides redress to people who believe they have been unfairly treated or subjected to an unwarranted infringement of privacy. Since 2003 all the foregoing are now come under OFCOM and they can be contacted at www.ofcom.org.uk