Saying “the power of social media has made the solemn duty of informing next of kin increasingly difficult,” the Bermuda Police Service has urged members of the public to think of the family members who may learn of the death of a loved one via text, BBM or email.
Assistant Commissioner of Police David Mirfield said, “The Bermuda Police Service takes the role of informing next of kin that their loved one has died very seriously.”
“Confirming death and positively identifying the victim must take place before efforts are made to contact an immediate family member at the earliest possible opportunity. If the next of kin is located overseas, notification may take longer.”
“Our intention in this process is to provide accurate information to the victim’s next of kin in a sensitive and timely manner. Only when the police are satisfied that the next of kin have been informed, and the identity of the person confirmed, will the police make the name public.”
“However, the power of social media has made the solemn duty of informing next of kin increasingly difficult. Within an hour of the tragic murder of 18 year old Malcolm Outerbridge, a photo and name claiming to be that of the deceased was being circulated via mobile phone – but in that instance both were incorrect.”
“We continue to discourage the dissemination of unconfirmed information by the public or the media, as this can cause unnecessary distress.”
“Each situation is different and while our objective is not to take an inordinate amount of time to inform the next of kin, our emphasis has to be on accuracy and ensuring the appropriate resources are available to assist the victim’s grieving family.”
“To that end, the Bermuda Police Service has specially trained Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) who facilitate families during tragic circumstances.
“While there is no way to control the distribution of images and information through various technological means, even when it’s regarding a recently deceased individual, we urge those members of the public engaging in such activity to think of the family members who may learn of the death of a loved one via text, BBM or e-mail as a result.”