Tim Hollis: Police officers have made strenuous efforts to support families
AS CHIEF constable of Humberside Police, I welcome the commitment made by the new police and crime commissioner, Matthew Grove, to improving the criminal justice system with respect to how it supports victims and their families and I share his determination to deliver improvements.
Regarding support for families of those killed in fatal road traffic collisions, a recent report in the media regarding his comments to the East Riding scrutiny committee was thought-provoking.
I would, however, wish to reassure the public of the strenuous efforts already made by my officers and police staff in providing support to such families.
We are very much aware of the fact they have suffered great trauma and heartache and want to know the answer to the question "Why?".
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During my 35 years of policing, I have seen significant improvements made in the relationships we build with grieving families in such instances.
At the heart of our efforts are dedicated family liaison officers (FLO) who undertake what can be an emotionally demanding role with considerable compassion and profession- alism.
They provide not only information and advice to the family but also support during the court process which, in itself, can be quite difficult for the family.
I am proud of the work our FLOs undertake and have a high regard for them.
Indeed, we are working hard to maintain our FLO numbers in spite of current and considerable financial pressures on the force.
Regarding the specific case to which Mr Grove made reference, he and I had discussed the matter and his concerns and agreed a positive way forward.
While the question of the police service charging for the provision of full files is understandably a sensitive one, I did explain to him the bulk of the information sought had already been made available to the family. Indeed, on two separate occasions staff from Humberside Police had spent a number of hours going into the detail of the police investigation and sharing with them the evidence considered by the court.
Recognising the family frustration at what they regarded to be a lax sentence, officers also met personally with a lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service to consider the evidence available against the charges brought before the court.
On this occasion, my officers went the extra mile in order to support the family.
I acknowledge the police and crime commissioner continues to have concerns about the wider workings of the criminal justice system and in this respect he mirrors the views of many of the public.
I would, however, wish to reassure your readers of the commitment and professionalism of my officers and police staff in providing support to families suffering the distress that follows a fatal road traffic accident, of which there continue to be too many.