Civil emergencies

International arrangements

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) leads on the UK’s international relations.

UK disaster victim identification (UK DVI) is the capability for responding to international incidents both within and outside the UK. The UK DVI response can be provided where British nationals are involved in a mass fatality incident or where the support of the UK has been requested by the country in which the incident has occurred.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The FCO assists all UK nationals abroad, including British overseas territories citizens, British overseas citizens, British nationals (overseas), British subjects and British protected persons. It may also provide assistance to citizens of Commonwealth nations and the EU where their own country does not have diplomatic representation. Work to provide help to these citizens is led by the FCO Consular Directorate as there are no statutory regulations or policy covering consular assistance.

In the event of a crisis overseas, the consular crisis group (CCG) department in the FCO’s consular directorate takes the lead in deciding the best way to provide effective and timely consular assistance to UK nationals affected by the crisis. The CCG can expand into an FCO emergency response team, which can open up a facility for the public to telephone the FCO with relevant concerns regarding the crisis. The CCG can also send a rapid deployment team (RDT) to the country or area affected by the crisis to support the work of consular staff in situ. Two UK DVI assessors should be deployed with the RDT wherever possible.

If the crisis results from a terrorist incident, hostage taking or kidnap, the FCO Counter Terrorism Policy Department takes the lead.

UK DVI team

The UK DVI cadre of DVI personnel is made up of police officers and police staff, together with non-police forensic experts. Members of UK DVI are appropriately trained and equipped for deployment overseas to serve the interests of the UK in a disaster requiring DVI disciplines. Teams can also be deployed within the UK to respond to a mass fatality incident.

Forces should request UK DVI support via the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC).

Official DVI personnel from other countries attending an incident in the UK may provide invaluable assistance in the identification process. It is important that any such international response is effectively coordinated. The gold commander should agree these arrangements in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the senior investigating officer (SIO) and the senior identification manager (SIM).

International incidents within the UK

A mass fatality incident occurring within the UK may involve nationals from outside the UK. Many other countries that are members of INTERPOL have disaster victim identification response capabilities. Requests are likely to be received by the UK Government for deployment of foreign national DVI teams in support of the UK response. Foreign national DVI responders will also be concerned with repatriating the deceased to their home country.

All requests for the deployment of DVI teams into the UK should be referred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The UK Government determines whether any request is appropriate.

The UK DVI national coordinator should liaise with INTERPOL about the scale and nature of the requested deployments.

International incidents outside the UK

If the crisis overseas involves mass fatalities with the possibility of British nationals being involved, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may request UK DVI team resources. The police DVI coordinator, in consultation with the ACPO President’s Chief of Staff (NPoCC lead) and gold command, deploys specialist DVI resources as required.

ACPO has an agreed process by which each police region of the UK assumes responsibility, on a rota basis, for being the first point of contact for the FCO. Each police region must have regional arrangements for receiving the request for activation of UK DVI. This responsibility can be undertaken by regional arrangements (lead region) or delegated to a police force within that region (lead force).

The lead police force must establish financial arrangements to capture and identify all costs reasonably incurred as a consequence of activating the ACPO International DVI arrangements.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) provides logistical and equipment support to UK DVI personnel deployed abroad. This is subject to an MoU held by police DVI and the MPS.

Regional arrangements

The lead region (or lead force) provides an assistant chief constable (or commander) to perform the role of gold commander, and suitably qualified police officers to perform the roles of senior identification manager and senior investigating officer. They also ensure that they have the necessary supporting personnel and procedures in place to facilitate the requirements of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on behalf of the police service.

The lead region or lead force also ensures that they have suitably qualified and experienced personnel available to undertake the roles of casualty bureau manager and family liaison coordinator. If there is a requirement to activate the national disaster victim identification arrangements, the FCO duty officer contacts the single point of contact for the lead region or lead force (usually through the force control room). The necessary personnel in the region or force should then be notified.

The gold commander should liaise with the coroner or procurator fiscal to consider convening a mass fatality coordination group. The coroner or procurator fiscal should oversee the coronial aspects of any deployment of UK DVI. The FCO sends a liaison team to the lead police force, and the senior FCO representative sits on the mass fatality coordination group.

Financial arrangements

There is an agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and ACPO for police forces involved in an international deployment to be reimbursed for costs reasonably incurred as a result of that deployment. The FCO will, however, require detailed audited accounts from the police forces concerned.

Page last accessed 22 July 2018