West Midlands Police have launched a new department which is the first of its kind in the UK. 
  
The force has worked with bereaved families to develop a new Family Liaison Support Unit, providing support and guidance to the families of victims of road traffic collisions. 

Avril Childs, from Kingstanding, lost her 26 year old daughter, Sarah, as a result of a speeding driver in 2012.   

Since the crash she has worked with the force to develop the role of the family liaison officer (FLO), the officer who is assigned as a point of contact for a family after they have lost a loved one in a road traffic collision. 

As a result of both Avril and other victims’ families’ involvement, the force is now the first in the country to establish a specialist unit dedicated to providing family liaison support.   

Previous to the creation of the new department, the role was something which officers volunteered for as a secondary role to their normal ‘day job’. When an FLO was needed following a serious collision they were appointed from the force ‘pool’ of volunteers. 

With the force averaging 80/90 fatal traffic collisions every year, and officers working different shift patterns in a variety of locations across the West Midlands, the force was not always able to offer a consistent level of support for a family.  

The new FLO unit has eight officers whose sole job it is to provide family liaison support for the families of victims of road traffic collisions.  They will each have their own cases and be the main point of contact for the family they have been assigned to. 

The unit will be part of the Force Collision Investigation unit. 

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Putting victims first has always been a top priority of mine and this is part of that commitment.

“I am proud that West Midlands Police is leading the way in ensuring that bereaved families get the best possible support and help.

“Avril’s courage and work in this area has been truly inspirational and I thank her for all she has done to help the police put this service in place.

“Sadly there are around 80 fatal accidents on the West Midlands’ roads each year. Each accident is a personal tragedy for the families affected. At  least now with this service in place those families will get the support and help that they need.” 

Superintendent Paul Keasey, head of Traffic, said:  “There are three different elements to the role of the FLO − to help with the investigation, to support the family of the victim and to signpost them to other support services and organisations that may be able to help. 

“This new team means that as well as supporting families, officers will also be able to spend time establishing and developing relationships with our partners, whether that is local community groups or local charities offering support for those who have lost loved ones. 

“They will also now have the capacity to provide support for the wider community, for example if the victim is a school child, working with the child’s school to provide reassurance and support which previously they may not have had the capacity to do. 

“This is a national first; WMP are leading the way in creating a centre of excellence.  

“The work we’ve done with Avril and other bereaved families is fundamental to the creation and development of this unit and we’re very grateful to those families for giving up their time to work with us on helping improve the service we offer the people of the West Midlands.”

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