Social needs and media considerations

Authorised Professional Practice

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Written by College of Policing
Disaster victim identification
2 mins read

Faith communities

The deceased and their family and friends may be from any number of nationalities, cultural groups or faiths, or may have no faith. Do not make assumptions about the religious or cultural beliefs or views of people. Where possible and appropriate, ask family and friends in a sensitive manner about their beliefs and cultures, as well as those of the deceased.

Consider people’s cultural and faith requirements at all times, although the nature of emergencies and major incidents are such that it may not be possible to meet individuals’ wishes in the early phases of an incident. As progress is made through the response phases of an incident, it becomes more likely that cultural and faith requirements can be identified and taken into account. Consider these requirements when dealing with deceased people, their families and friends.

The media

A range of personnel are available to support the police in ensuring that cultural and faith issues are addressed appropriately during major incidents. Consult police diversity managers and officers, and make use of their networks of key community leaders or faith leaders. Faith groups and faith leaders do not always represent the whole community, so consider the diverse needs of all members of all faiths and cultures, as far as practical and possible. Faith groups can be part of a voluntary sector working group operating under the local resilience forum (LRF).

Media, and in particular social media, is used increasingly by the public to report emergencies or call for help. There is an expectation that the police and other agencies will be actively engaged in using the technology to create a two-way, real-time channel of communication. The increased use of smartphones and social media platforms means that first reports of an incident appear increasingly often on social media. It is therefore important to quickly develop a media strategy.

For further information, see social media in emergency situations.

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