14 July 2020

New national guidance on post-incident procedures following death or serious injury

New national guidance to ensure forces take a consistent approach when responding to and investigating deaths or serious injuries following police contact have been introduced by the College of Policing.

The Death or Serious Injury Authorised Professional Practice (DSI APP) provides clear guidance and greater support for officers and staff in England and Wales when investigating incidents that do not involve the police use of firearms or Conducted Energy Devices (Taser).

The new DSI APP sets out clearly the steps that a force should take when reviewing serious incidents involving members of the public and the legal protections which investigating teams can consider for officers to help ensure their welfare is looked after, as well as assisting with the investigation.

The new guidance has been developed following consultation with the service over the last two years and follows the publication last year of statutory guidance from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) on how the police service can achieve best evidence in DSI matters.

The College’s guidance acknowledges the IOPC document and mirrors the post-incident procedures carried out in armed policing incidents, which have been used successfully for many years, whilst recognising there will be operational differences in the issues encountered by officers and staff.

The APP provides guidance and direction intended to support forces in complying with legal and procedural requirements and describes the investigative considerations and obligations for forces that will ensure a transparent and effective investigation in to what has happened.

It also sets out considerations which should be taken into account around officer and staff welfare and details the responsibilities which a number of key roles within each force would have in responding to any death or serious injury incident, from investigating officers through to chiefs.

These principles would apply whether the incident was investigated by the force’s professional standards department or by the relevant independent investigative authority.

Richard Bennett, uniformed policing lead at the College of Policing, said: “The new guidance has been designed to support forces in providing consistent responses when dealing with any death or serious injury incident following police contact.

“The previous lack of guidance around how police forces dealt with non-firearms DSI incidents was recognised as a significant vulnerability for the police, which we have worked with them to address.

“Our guidance will end the reliance of forces on using the proven successful firearms procedures to investigate other serious cases, where the operational issues are often quite different.  It provides them with clarity around the steps they should be taking to ensure that evidence is protected and gathered in a transparent way and this in turn will help protect frontline officers and support their wellbeing.”

Read the full national guidance on post-incident procedures.

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