What happens next when someone close to you dies on the railway

Every year some 400 people die on the railway in England, Scotland and Wales. Many of these deaths involve suicide, but there are also accidental and sudden deaths and a small number of homicides.

All of them represent a personal tragedy and have a huge impact on the families, friends and communities left behind.

At British Transport Police (BTP), we respond to these incidents and investigate them thoroughly and professionally. Our job is to provide evidence to the Coroner or the Crown Prosecutor in England and Wales. In Scotland, these investigations are conducted on behalf of the Procurator Fiscal and Crown Office.

When responding to deaths on the railway, we will:

• Protect life

• Ensure the health and safety of responding officers

• Preserve the dignity of the person who has died

• Conduct thorough investigations on behalf of the Coroner, Procurator Fiscal or Crown Prosecutor.

We will provide the right balance of support and information to the bereaved while delivering a professional investigation they can have confidence in.


The Charter

Our charter outlines BTP's commitment to the bereavement and the support available to those affected.

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Under the charter, we will:

• Respond in a timely and professional manner, treating the person who has died with dignity and respect.

• Conduct a thorough and professional investigation that seeks to explain how the person who has died met their death, establish whether anyone or any corporation may be culpable, and provide all relevant evidence to the Coroner, Procurator Fiscal or Crown Prosecutor.

• Inform the next of kin as soon as possible after the person who has died has been identified, and provide them with factual information in a professional, empathetic and timely way.

• Seek facts about the person who has died from the bereaved to establish relevant lines of inquiry and discuss any concerns they may have.

• Return items belonging to the person who has died as quickly as possible and in a suitable condition to the nominated contact.

• Be aware that those bereaved by suicide are at a significantly higher risk of suicide themselves. Where necessary, we will seek advice from our Suicide Prevention and Mental Health (SPMH)team.

• Provide the bereaved with information about support services that could help them.

• Explain the investigative process to the nominated contact and support them through it and the Inquest or Fatal Accident Inquiry. In some circumstances, we will consider appointing a Family Liaison Officer to provide further support to the bereaved.

• Keep in contact with the nominated contact and provide them with the lead investigator’s contact details. We will contact the nominated contact to discuss what is happening within eight hours of first speaking with them, and at least weekly until after the inquiry is concluded (unless a different timeframe is agreed).

• Provide information to the nominated contact when requested, unless it would seriously undermine the investigation or is against the direction of the Coroner, Procurator Fiscal or Crown Prosecutor.

• Where required, negotiate with the relevant rail authority for opportunities for the bereaved to visit the site of the incident and understand how it happened.

• Consider the impact on the local community and, where relevant, provide support and reassurance.

Contact Us

To report a crime or incident, call

0800 40 50 40

or text 61016

In an emergency call 999