Doctors and police officers are required to work together to respond to the unexpected death of a child. This short course tackles evidence from Serious Case Reviews which indicates that a lack of understanding of respective agency roles can cause a breakdown in trust and communication, and lead to increased anxiety.

On this one-day Child Death Immersion Programme, you'll be one of 5 doctors and 5 senior detectives. Together, you'll work together through high-intensity exercises and realistic simulations in our £7m fully equipped hospital and healthcare simulation suite. While unexpected child death is rare in the UK, it has a big impact on those investigating its cause – making this course an important way for you to build valuable experience.

When you complete the course, you'll understand not only the technical process, but also non-technical skills, such as how it feels emotionally to work alongside police and doctors in a collaborative and respectful way.

Course details


  • Mode of study: Direct contact
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Start and end dates: To be arranged; please contact us below for more detail.


  • £250

This has the potential to provide a fantastic training resource for senior registrars and consultants both in Emergency Medicine and Paediatrics.

Consultant Paediatrician, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester

What you'll experience

You'll work in a safe environment, where you'll begin to understand what it's like to work in a child death situation with your colleagues, from either police or medicine. You'll experience the pressures and fears of delegates from both disciplines, and learn the mental tools to deal with anxiety and vulnerability.

For doctors, you'll:

  • Learn techniques, and practice communicating with parents and family members after a child has died
  • Understand the stages of the Joint Agency Response and role of the lead clinician
  • Understand the interface between police and health in unexpected child death, including the need for clarity in communication, and information sharing
  • Become familiar with the initial response to unexpected death in the Emergency Department, including joint history taking and examination, and planning of early (phase 1) meeting
  • Understand the importance of information gathering and submission for CDOP and the child death review and Serious Case Review process

For police officers, you'll:

  • Understand and establish the nature of the investigation within the context of the Joint Agency Response.
  • Take command of, and plan, the initial police response to the sudden unexpected death of a child
  • Attend and carry out the appropriate activity at the Hospital Emergency Department.
  • Identify the key roles involved in the Emergency Department and establish good lines of communication, and working relationships with health professionals
  • Instigate first police contact with and support for the family.
  • Conduct a home visit with the relevant health professional, identifying key factors relevant to the death and investigation
  • Understand the importance of complying with powers, policy and relevant legislation, as well as the 'Kennedy Guidelines'

Endorsement by Portsmouth Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)

Government guidance requires doctors, police officers and others, to work together as a Joint Agency Team to investigate the unexpected death of every child. These practitioners are drawn from different professional cultures, they have different priorities, and sometimes they struggle to understand why they each need to operate in a certain way. This sometimes creates tension and a lack of good quality joint working.

Such an outcome is of great concern to me, and my colleagues on the Portsmouth Local Safeguarding Board, because if practitioners from safeguarding agencies don't work together well to find a cause, surviving children may be left at risk of harm.

That is why I was delighted when I was told that our local University here in Portsmouth has teamed up with doctors from the nearby NHS Trusts, and Hampshire Police, to create an exciting training course which will bring together police investigators, paediatricians and other doctors, in a realistic simulated learning environment to help them better understand each other's roles, and to communicate and share information in an effective way.

- Dr Richard John, Independent Chair, Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board


You'll be taught by:

  • Dr John Fox MSc, PhD. Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Laura Knight, Teaching Fellow BSc (Hons), PGCert, Diagnostic Radiography and Medical Imaging
  • Other Facilitators will include experienced Consultant Paediatricians and Senior Police Detectives

I have attended 24 child deaths in the last 18 months and this training felt as real as it gets.

Police Detective Inspector, Hampshire Police

Entry requirements

You'll need to be currently working or about to begin a role as a doctor or police officer responding to the sudden and unexpected death of a child.

For police officers, it's also beneficial if you are alumni of the College of Policing 4 day ‘Investigating Sudden Child Death’ programme.

How to book or contact us

To book onto this course, register your interest or find out more, please contact the course director, Dr John Fox on john.fox@port.ac.uk.