Breaking bad news: A qualitative study of frontline police work with the bereaved

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Nottingham

In Collaboration With

Roads Policing Academic Network, University of Keele; East Midlands Policing Academic Collaboration (EMPAC)

Principal Researcher

Dr Karen Lumsden

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

April 2020

Research Context

​Police officers deal with death on a daily basis as part of their everyday work. This includes the daunting task of breaking bad news to the bereaved. Despite the fact that this forms a central element of police work, there is both a lack of research into the ways in which officers break bad news to the bereaved, and on education and training for frontline officers. This is also further impacted by the current Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in disruption to practices and customs of bereavement and grieving.

Research Methodology

​This study is funded via a Leverhulme Trust / British Academy Small Grant which runs from 2020-2021. It involves qualitative interviews with frontline police officers who have experience of breaking bad news to relatives of the deceased. We are conducting 45 semi-structured interviews with frontline officers (including those in roads policing, investigation, and family liaison officers), who have experience of working with the bereaved. Thematic analysis will be utilised to analyse the interview data.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

May 2021
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