Centre for Crisis Psychology
Student fellow

Georg W. Nielsen

Parents' experience of meeting with the police after sudden, unexpected child death

Main content

Georg Nielsen is a 3rd year student at professional studies in psychology, University in Bergen.

Background: Since 2011, it has been mandatory for the police to investigate all cases where children under the age of 18 die suddenly and unexpectedly. If the police have initiated an investigation, on the basis of autopsy or other information, a death scene investigation will not be initiated. If there is a suspicion of a criminal offense during the death scene investigation, the investigation shall be cancelled and further follow-up is left to the police.

In connection with losing their child, parents come into contact with both the police and hospital before being asked to participate in a death scene investigation in their home. There is little knowledge of how parents experience meeting with the police shortly after losing their child. This study aim to examine how parents have experienced encounters with the police.

Research questions

  • What does the police do in connection with their duty of investigation?
  • What do parents think about the police being involved?
  • Does the involvement of the police add to their burden
  • Have they felt under suspicion, stigmatized, or well taken care of ?
  • How can the police make the investigation as little burdensome as possible for the parents?


Method: The study is based on in-depth analyzes of 30 parent couples who participated in a nationwide study of their experience of the death scene investigation in the period 2013-2016. All parents have in some way been in contact with the police after the death.

The aim is to submit a qualitative article to the journal Nordisk politiforskning, which is a peer-reviewed journal.