Next of Kin petition on the Downing Street site

#1
A petition is running on the official 10 Downing Street website urging the Government to ensure that military Next Of Kin are formally notified of a death prior to any release of information to or by the media.

Please take the time to visit the petition link below and add your name to those who have signed so far. Please also feel free to pass this link on to friends and family for them to sign too.

Next of Kin Petition
 

Fugly

ADC
DirtyBAT
#2
Errrrrrr - doesn't this happen already?

Op Minimise etc called into force in theatre, Family informed back home, Press informed with a 24-hour cooling period before a name is released.

If indeed I am mistaken, and families have been affected by the media reporting a death before they have been informed by the MOD, then I humbly apologise, and shall get my name on the list pronto.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#3
Not as easy as you seem to assume Mrs Cheeks.
Media pick up these things all the time. And in truth the MOD do not publish names until NOK have been informed & if the family then ask for extra time they (MOD) and the media respect those wishes.
I would also add this is not a new thing. Those of us who served in NI in the 70s know what our families went through when it was announced in the media that a soldier from such and such a unit or in such and such location had been killed as they waited for the knock on the door!
 
#4
I never presume ANYTHING is easy, otherwise I would not have been doing what I have for the past 4 yrs LOL.

Since the petition went up there has been a change in the reporting of military deaths - at first it was deemed coincidence, but now many of us beleive that it is as a direct result of the petition, which was also sent to the newspapers and the press agencies as well as many other places.

I can only presume as well that the MoD themselves believe it to be a worthwhile petition as it was MODBloke who suggested I post it up on here as he felt it would gain many more signatures.

I only hope that is true - and that the media continue to hold back on their reporting in order to allow the MoD and welfare to do their incredibly hard and unenviable job of notifying the next of kin before the media starts to swarm on them.

Afterall, having seen the affect this has on other people in hearing on the news FIRST, I personally do not wish to ever be in that position myself. The way I look at it is that if I dont want that experience, best I be pro-active and try to make sure things change for the better.
 
#5
Fugly said:
Errrrrrr - doesn't this happen already?

Op Minimise etc called into force in theatre, Family informed back home, Press informed with a 24-hour cooling period before a name is released.

If indeed I am mistaken, and families have been affected by the media reporting a death before they have been informed by the MOD, then I humbly apologise, and shall get my name on the list pronto.

No, Fugly, you are absolutely right. There is an unpleasant period for many in the time between the announcement of a death and the release of a name, however this is virtually unavoidable in an era of international media. Those who actually do get the bad news, get it in as careful a way as possible. Those that don't, have a stressful few hours, but eventual relief. By and large, if you are easily contactable, and you haven't heard anything within a few hours of the official announcement, then you are in the clear.

Not a petition for me, I don't think.
 
#6
The problem is though Dilfor that even just a few months ago, which is why the petition was created, this was not the case. Tragic as it is there were families who were in the position of hearing of a death on the news first, and spent hours worried sick that they woudl get a knock on the door.

What the petition is asking for is that the media hold back until those familes are informed. Not to tell the media they cannot report the news, but to exercise compassion fo rhte many families who are affected and to allow them to be given the information before the rest of the world.

I understand where you are coming from saying if you havent heard anything within a few hours then your family is not one that has to deal with the tragic news, but surely it is better to not have to spend those hours worried sick because of the media coverage citing unit and location?

Maybe putting ourselves in the position of "if it was MY family, would I want them to go through that anguish when it is preventable?" is one way of looking at this.

Already as I have mentioned, and as you will have all seen on the news the past few months, the way military deaths have been reported HAS changed. It is now common place, thank god, for the news to report "next of kin have already been informed". Let's keep it that way, and if it takes appealing to peoples better nature and compassion surely that is a positive thing?
 
#8
475 signatures and still counting.

Keep supporting this issue please people- remember, the families are the ones who stand to benefit from this.

Just as recently as 2 weeks ago both Sky and the BBC failed to report as the MoD expects and once again it was headline news that "next of kin have yet to be informed". Having spoken to the MoD Press Office regards the reports on that particular day I can say categorically that they were not impressed by what the media were doing, and thanked us for what we are doing in this petition.

Needless to say this is heartwarming coming from the very people we are trying to aid in their most difficult of jobs.
 
#10
I dont think people are reading the petition correctly - or my comments above.

Next of Kin are of course being informed, they are the priority for the MoD and always have been. What is being called into question however is that the MEDIA are reporting the news when they know that the MoD are still in the process of notifying the NOK and verifying the facts to give as clear a picture as possible to the NOK and then to the media.

It is not what is expected by the MoD or any organisation of the media - the media know damn well that they are supposed to wait until facts can be verified. But they put their own selfish need to "bag a headline" before what is morally and professionally expected of them.

This is why we are not demanding a media blackout in the sense of NO information whatsoever - but suggesting that the Governement step in to remind the media where their responsibilities lie and to allow the MoD to do their job before they start spreading unneccesary panic amongst families.

Thankfully they have had yet another kick up the proverbial backside and the latest sad news from Iraq reports just what is expected - that NOK have been notified and that no further information will be given until the families are ready.

Thanks for signing btw, very much appreciated.
 
#12
A lot of the time, and this is what I have been told from both serving personnel as well as the MoD Press Office itself, its because the press are in the area where the attack and subsequent injuries/deaths have occured.

Sadly they dont consider getting facts first and holding back - they want their scoop and that is what they will get. So they send the news straight back and next thing you have got Sky News reporting that a nimrod has crashed in Iraq ... meanwhile the MoD are still verifying the situation, and who was onboard so they can contact the NOK.

Imagine being sat in front of the TV and seeing that come up - and then get a knock on the door.

I spoke to an ex-serviceman just a few weeks back who was the person to make that knock on the door a few years ago. As he walked up the footpath he could see the TV on in the house and it was the news. He said the shocked shout from the house as the report of a military "incident" were broadcast was awful. He had to then knock on the door and break the news that this woman's husband had been killed.

Its a memory he wishes he could erase - and I bet she wishes that too. Bad enough to be told your loved one has been killed - unforgiveable for the media to show NO respect whatsoever and report the news before the MoD had been able to speak to the NOK first.
 
#13
MrsCheeks said:
A lot of the time, and this is what I have been told from both serving personnel as well as the MoD Press Office itself, its because the press are in the area where the attack and subsequent injuries/deaths have occured.

Sadly they dont consider getting facts first and holding back - they want their scoop and that is what they will get. So they send the news straight back and next thing you have got Sky News reporting that a nimrod has crashed in Iraq ... meanwhile the MoD are still verifying the situation, and who was onboard so they can contact the NOK.

Imagine being sat in front of the TV and seeing that come up - and then get a knock on the door.

I spoke to an ex-serviceman just a few weeks back who was the person to make that knock on the door a few years ago. As he walked up the footpath he could see the TV on in the house and it was the news. He said the shocked shout from the house as the report of a military "incident" were broadcast was awful. He had to then knock on the door and break the news that this woman's husband had been killed.

Its a memory he wishes he could erase - and I bet she wishes that too. Bad enough to be told your loved one has been killed - unforgiveable for the media to show NO respect whatsoever and report the news before the MoD had been able to speak to the NOK first.
Exactly what no person should have to experience. Should be made a crime to report it before NoK are informed as far as im concerned.
 
#17
The Government has today responded:

The Government recognise the uncertainty and distress that the announcement of unnamed casualties can cause for the families of personnel serving on operations, many of whom are supporters of The Yellow Ribbon Foundation. However, every effort is made to minimise the worry and distress for family members of all those deployed on operations.

It is the policy of The Ministry of Defence (MOD) to delay the confirmation of a death until the next of kin have been informed, and this is the case in the vast majority of incidents. But it now takes no more than a matter of hours, if not less, for the media to become aware of incidents involving our Service personnel and to report them. Indeed, they are often on the ground alongside our forces. It is simply not possible for the Government to embargo the fact that an incident has taken place and to prevent the press from reporting it. However, we do ask the media, whenever possible, not to report the incident until next of kin have been informed. The MOD does not release to the media the names or units of individuals who have been killed until this has been done; and journalists are encouraged not to speculate any further until we are in a position to release the information. If media speculation occurs, the Defence Press Office will usually provide the media with simple, factual information on incidents, agreed with the military chain of command, while the process of informing the next of kin takes place. This approach helps to ensure that, as far as we can, a bereaved family does not find out about the death of their relative from the media.

Our priority in the case of any casualty, or fatality, is to ensure the next of kin are informed as quickly and as sensitively as possible through the Joint Casualty Compassionate Centre (JCCC) at Innsworth, Gloucestershire. A Casualty Visiting Officer is immediately assigned to the family to provide support, advice and information. Once the next of kin have been informed, the visiting officer explains to them that the media will most likely be able to obtain the name and details of the deceased through their own sources. The family is advised to allow the MOD to publish the name of their loved one, usually after taking a 24-hour grace period in order to inform wider family and friends. The family can also choose to release a photograph and a eulogy, which the MOD can pass to the media on their behalf. If they want to conduct any media interviews, then this can also be supported by the Defence Press Office team. All of this activity is intended to help to protect the family as much as possible from the inevitable media attention that will follow, specifically by reducing the need for the media to approach the family directly for information during what is an extremely distressing time.

The majority of the UK media support this process, and choose to respect the wishes of the families. In the rare occasions that they do not, the MOD makes the strongest possible representations.

On hearing reports of an operational incident, any concerned family member may call the JCCC telephone number (01452 519 951), which is manned 24 hours a day. Further information about the JCCC is available on the MOD's website (new window).

Unfortunately, the reporting of operational casualties and fatalities is a very difficult issue, and sadly it inevitably means distress for all involved. But, the efforts of all those involved in easing the pain and sadness experienced are much appreciated, not least those made by The Yellow Ribbon Foundation and its supporters.
 

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