Working as a Family Liaison Officer – FLO

Working as a Family Liaison Officer

Being a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) is a particularly challenging investigative role which puts the FLO in contact with families, many of whom are suffering trauma through the loss of a loved one. Detectives can specialise to become FLOs, for which they have to undertake a course and be successful to be able to do this role.

Our Chief Constable Jason Hogg explains the role of a FLO in investigations in the video below:
Our colleague Lynda Stearman, Detective and FLO explains what happens when a FLO gets a deployment:

Pictured: Detective and FLO Lynda Stearman - discover Lynda's story

When a murder comes in the Senior Investigation Officer (SIO), who is usually a Detective Inspector (DI), Detective Chief Inspector (DCI), or Detective Chief Superintendent, they will request 2 volunteers to be the Family Liaison Officers (FLO) for the deceased family. As a FLO, I would usually only volunteer if the family lives within a certain distance from Milton Keynes, this is so they get the absolute best service from the Police. However, I have had some deployments whereby family members live out of area. 

Depending on when the murder comes in, there could a request to go and give the message to the family and introduce ourselves as being the point of contact. At this time, we would not have too many details about the death so this is when we would explain the process of what happens (i.e.: Postmortem – PM, viewing of their loved one, forms that need to be completed, a victimology statement). We would then attend the briefing held by the Major Crime Unit providing an update of the family dynamics and any concerns they may have – or any issues they could cause to the investigation. We would then usually speak with the SIO to confirm what information can be disclosed to the family – we would then go and see the family in person. 

A FLO deployment is usually full on for the first 2 weeks providing information from the investigation and obviously obtaining as much information from the family as possible. All contact with the family needs to be recorded within a Major Crime Incident Book and then transferred onto the FLO log. 

Once all the initial actions have been completed usually contact will continue in a steadier pace, and transfer towards telephone updates. We will remain in contact with the family throughout the investigation. If the family wants to attend the Crown Court trial (if a charge is authorised) then the FLOs (Family Liaison Officers) would go with them, sometimes driving the family to the Courts. We would sit through the trial with the family, ensuring we can secure a witness room so they can be spoken to in private – also to keep them away from the suspect’s family should they attend. This is possibly the part of the job which although is extremely interesting, is also the most arduous, as trials can last for a few weeks and can be exceedingly long days. 

The FLO deployment can be dipped in and out of, and I can carry on with my own investigations as a Detective Constable.

Learn more about the fascinating role of a Family Liaison Officer from our Facebook Live: