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What degree involvement have the police when a person dies at home?

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davidk65 | 21:58 Tue 04th Jan 2011 | Law
13 Answers
A relative, aged 53, very recently died at home/ in the ambulance/hospital. They had a visit from the police.
The person concerned had bypass heart surgery some 18 months previously, and whilst still under the care of his GP, had returned to full time employment. Retiring to bed, he told his wife he felt unwell, he then slumped forward. The ambulance was called and he died either on the way to the hospital or on arrival. The police were called and the relatives were asked to make statements to the police.
At 1-30 in the morning 2 detectives arrived at the family home and searched the premises seizing all medication and receipts for medication supplied in the past. The ambulance crews, who gave treatment at the home, had left the bed room in a bit of a mess and family members who remained at home had cleaned round pending the return from the hospital of the rest of the family.
I understand that the detectives were extremely angry telling the family that they "had no right to touch anything until they had been." Unfortunately this had never been conveyed to the family. The death of a love one was traumatic enough, but to be shouted at by the police was sufficient to cause further hurt.

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If the situation is as you describe, the family members involved should certainly make a complaint to the IPCC. There is absolutely no justification in police behaving in this way & nothing will happen to correct them unless a complaint is made.
22:52 Wed 05th Jan 2011
who called the police?
when i used to work for a hospice at home service, if someone died at home and had not been seen by a GP in the last 14 days, or was definately going to have a PM (for example if they had mesothelioma) we had to call the police. Not 999 but the coroners liason officer at the local station. Sometimes they used to come and accompany the body
This would have been a "Sudden Death" and the police would correctly be involved - probably called by ambulance staff. Police would prepare a report for the Coroner where he/she also becomes involved which would not be known until the deceased's doctor could be contacted. Heart surgery 18 months ago would be irrelevant at the immediate time ambulance staff were involved as to them it would be a reportable sudden death.

Personal manners of a police officers (not "The Police" which cannot be ill-mannered) in this situation may be questionable though as the question, as related, appears to be largely second-hand this aspect is best left alone as any matter of who said what has two sides. Original complainants can always put their concerns at the local cop shop.
With the recent carry-ons involving assisted suicides .. I would think someone got jumpy and involved them .. or they got over-enthusiastic.
If you are not happy .. write a letter of complaint regarding the sensitivity of the situation to the local Police.
Also ... they should NOT be shouting at anyone, should they!?
The police are always called to a sudden death even if the person was already unwell, My husband died suddenly but because he had not seen the doctor for just over 2 weeks the policeman had to ask me a few questions but was very kind and respectful,he had to have a post mortem to confirm his problem heart.
Yep...My Uncle died in his sleep and the police were called. He was a single man though so no extra distress to the family.
I found my dad dead at his home and called an ambulance, they called the Police and in turn an undertaker turned up.

I have to admit that all the guys were great - the police officer sorted through my dad's medicines with me and he even went out of his way to tell his neighbour (a friend of my dads) that he had died.

My dad was 76 and had heart and lung problems - but he was sent for a PM, but they didn't actually do one (not sure exactly why not).
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Many thanks for the responses. There are at least two parts to my question:
i) Police involvement in sudden death cases. You have cleared that up for me.
ii) The attitude of the individual police officers involved. This is the more difficult. Listening to the family members directly involved their story is one of great hurt, not that the police came but the manner in which they conducted themselves. You are right if the matter was raised now, with the funeral just days away, it would only prolong the pain, which I will not do.
The family tell of their Dad/Husband that died: but the overriding memory is the attitude of the officers which in their opinion was very bad and unsympathetic.
The could always complain.
make a complaint -this is ridiculous behaviour on the part of the police
If they were detectives it may be that they weren't too happy about doing 'uniform' work. But regardless they should have made some sort of an effort to be more friendly or helpful.
If the situation is as you describe, the family members involved should certainly make a complaint to the IPCC. There is absolutely no justification in police behaving in this way & nothing will happen to correct them unless a complaint is made.

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