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Advice on actions you may need to take and the support available from the FCDO and others when a British person dies abroad through murder or manslaughter or in suspicious circumstances.
The death of a family member or friend is always distressing, especially if it happens through murder, manslaughter or other suspicious circumstances abroad.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can give you immediate support and information on the telephone at any time. Call 020 7008 5000.
You should read this alongside the guidance on what to do if a British person dies abroad. The guidance on this page provides additional information for when a British person dies through murder, manslaughter or other suspicious circumstances.
If a British person dies from murder or manslaughter, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can give you specific support and advice. We can assign a dedicated consular officer and offer you a face-to-face or virtual meeting. If you need urgent advice you can speak to consular staff 24/7.
For death through murder or manslaughter, we can assign you a named member of consular staff. They can seek updates on the investigation or subsequent trial on your behalf and seek to register our interest with the local authorities. We can also support you if you wish to make arrangements to attend a trial or visit the place where your friend or relative died. The funeral may need to take place sometime after the death, as evidence needs to be gathered. This usually applies whether the funeral is in the UK or abroad.
We aim to raise every murder or manslaughter of a British national with the relevant authorities abroad. This includes raising the requirements of the coroner if the person who died will be repatriated to England or Wales, see the guidance on what to do if a British national dies abroad. We can seek updates on the investigation or trial on your behalf. Where possible we can also support you in arrangements to attend a trial, or visit the place where the person died.
We may be able to help arrange a meeting with the foreign investigating body or police force. If you live in England, Wales and Scotland and you consent, you can be referred to the Victim Support National Homicide Service. If you live in Scotland and you consent, we can also refer you to Victim Support Scotland’s support for families bereaved by crime service.
If you think there is evidence of suspicious circumstances, but the death is not being investigated as a murder or manslaughter, we can advise on how to raise your concerns with the relevant authorities abroad. You should also consider seeking independent legal advice.
With your consent we can help you access support from the Victim Support National Homicide Service in England and Wales or the Victim Support Scotland’s support for families bereaved by crime service in Scotland.
Tell us if you would like support from these partner organisations. They provide practical and emotional support to the immediate family of a British person murdered abroad, if the bereaved family live in England, Scotland and Wales.
If you consent to getting Victim Support, someone will contact you to explain what support they can offer. This can include emotional support and help with returning the body home, legal fees and translation. Find out more about the support available in the Victim Support National Homicide Service leaflet or from Victim Support Scotland.
If you do not want support now, but you change your mind later, it will still be available to you. If you are not eligible for this support, we can direct you to other support services.
When a crime, for example murder, is committed abroad, any investigation will be according to the local laws, practices and standards, which may be very different to those in the UK.
In most cases, the UK police and authorities, including the FCDO, have no jurisdiction over the legal process of another country. This means that they cannot interfere in investigations or legal proceedings that take place abroad. It is not possible to know how long any police investigation abroad may take. The UK police cannot insist on carrying out a joint investigation with the local police.
Court procedures vary by country, and can take months or even years to complete. The FCDO can provide basic information on what to expect. If you wish to attend any court proceedings overseas, or to meet the police or other officials, the FCDO can try to facilitate this. However, you will be responsible for any costs involved in travelling or attending court. If you do not wish to attend, or cannot, the FCDO may be able to keep you updated on proceedings. If you are dissatisfied with the result of a court case you may need to consult a local lawyer.
Your local UK police force may appoint a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) to assist you. This would normally only be if the UK police were investigating, for example, to gather evidence for a coroner in England or Wales or on request of the foreign police responsible for investigating the death. They can also be appointed in other circumstances, for example if there is a high level of media interest.
If a FLO is appointed, we will work closely with them to support you. We will provide them with any information we receive on your case from the authorities overseas, but if you prefer, we can provide these updates directly to you instead.
You may also wish to view the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Murder Manslaughter and Infanticide abroad.
Find further information, including on compensation, dealing with media interest, and organisations that can provide professional support, in our guidance on what to do if a British person dies abroad.
You can read the disclaimer relating to this guidance.
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