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English Multi-Agency Approach to the Investigation of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy and the Care of Bereaved Families

[ Vol. 6 , Issue. 1 ]


Peter J. Fleming   Pages 15 - 18 ( 4 )


Experience of the investigation of unexpected infant deaths in several countries has identified recurring instances of two types of error in such investigations — both equally destructive and undesirable — 1) inadequate investigation failing to identify child neglect or abuse, or 2) innocent parents being wrongly accused of harming their child. Studies of the use of multiagency investigation of unexpected infant deaths have shown that the needs of bereaved parents for help and support and the need for statutory agencies to investigate unexpected infant deaths need not be seen as conflicting or incompatible. The implementation in England of a co-ordinated multiagency approach to the investigation of unexpected deaths in infancy has led both to improved care and support of families and to higher standards in the investigation of such deaths, making optimal use of all available forensic, clinical and epidemiological skills and evidence. This chapter describes the rationale behind the English approach and the preliminary effects of its implementation over the past few years.


SIDS, SUDI, SUID, multiagency, investigation, bereavement


Department of Community Based Medicine, University of Bristol, Level D, St Michaels Hospital, Bristol BS2 8EG, UK.

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