BREAKING the news that a loved one has died or been seriously injured is not a job for the faint-hearted.
But for police family liaison officers (FLO) helping people during the most traumatic times of their lives is part of the job.
PC Greg Entwistle, a family liaison officer for GMP’s serious collision investigation unit, said the role involves supporting relatives from the aftermath of the collision up until after the court process if a prosecution is pursued.
PC Entwistle, who has been an officer for nearly 28 years, said: “Having family liaison officers is important to help people through what is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to them in their lives. We all die but you don’t expect to go out to work and not come home again. It is the suddenness of it all.”
He said the work of a FLO starts as soon as an incident happens. Police work to establish the identity of a person and then inform family members.
“If you are identifying someone and it is a pedestrian or a jogger they may have no identification on them whatsoever, that’s when the challenge starts to try to find out who it is. When we don’t know who the person is we use physical descriptions, tattoos or mobile phones to assist.
“We can also use fingerprint evidence.
“Next, we need to break the bad news to the family.
“Some people are highly emotional, sometimes you get anger directed towards you because you are the bearer of bad news. Sometimes it’s very difficult not to get emotionally involved.”
Police work with the family regularly, getting them through a criminal court process or supporting them through an inquest.
He said: “I don’t think I could do the job if it wasn’t rewarding. People would flounder without help.”
The job also involves signposting people to other agencies such as Brake, a road safety charity, and Winston’s Wish, a cause for bereaved children.
He said during his career being a family liaison officer has not changed much but officers now face a race against time to ensure loved ones are informed about incidents before information goes out on social media.