Major Incident Support

We consider that a critical incident is an event that is potentially traumatic, and affects a large part, or the whole of an educational community, rather than just one or two individuals. Such events are likely to cause many adults and children distress and may threaten to overwhelm their capacity to cope.  

Informed by research and best practice, these resources support communities in providing a comprehensive and compassionate response to traumatic events that affect children and young people in their care.


The death of a parent, sibling or other loved one is a devastating experience for any young person and often adults don’t know what to say or how to support them, especially if they are a teenager. Teenage years are a challenging time, full of hormonal changes, working out who you are, building independence, testing boundaries and taking risks. Even without the death of someone important. So when a teenager experiences the death of someone close to them, their emotions and ability to cope can feel so much more difficult and intensified for the young person and those supporting them.

Most of us are familiar with the 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But quite recently, a new stage of grief was introduced – ‘meaning’. During this time where meaning might be especially difficult to find, David Kessler’s Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief’ might be a useful book to begin with. For free sample chapters and further information on the stages of grief visit the website.

Going back to school after someone important has died can be difficult for a child or young person. Teachers and school staff have an important part to play in helping a bereaved child when in school and supporting a child or young person who is grieving.

School provides a familiar routine in a child’s life. Many children and young people who have been bereaved find returning to school comforting, even quite soon after someone has died, because it shows that some things are reliable and stay the same – even if so much else is changing.


There are links on bereavement below and some are specifically for students dealing with a major incident. We suggest that students are signposting to these only after you have first visited them and decide if they are appropriate for your child. It is suggested these resources are best accessed by students with support. 

After a Major Incident

Co-produced by Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council is advice on how to keep your child safe and how to talk about difficult subjects with your child.

Advice for starting conversation with your child about the incidents:

We understand that yourself and your children will be concerned about a major incident such as knife crime. Some children’s behaviour may not have changed, while others may have lots of questions,  or may be avoiding discussion. No matter how your child is reacting, talking about knife  crime or knife carrying is part of the solution and can help save lives.  

We encourage you to all have age-appropriate conversations with your children at home, to  help them understand what’s happened and what they can do if they’re feeling worried.  Actively talking about the incidents and knife crime at home will also means that if they do  have any worries, they’re more likely to come and speak to you. 

There are lots of different organisations that can help you with age-appropriate  conversations. You can find general advice for talking about difficult topics on the NSPCC  website, there are also places to go for age-specific advice: 

For under-11s (many BCCS students will have younger siblings)

  • Resources like Talk PANTS will help
  • Make sure you’re using language they can understand. 
  • If you suspect grooming or exploitation, you can report this directly to CEOP.

For older children and teenagers  

Their needs and behaviour will be changing and they may find talking to you about difficult  topics embarrassing. They will still look to you for support, so it’s worth continuing to check in  with them regularly, even if there’s nothing they want to talk about. There are some tips in  the NSPCC's Positive Parenting guide and on its page on talking about difficult topics

Advice on where to go for help if you think your child may be at risk from knife crime 

In the first instance, if you have information that you think the police need to know to keep  people safe from drug dealing, serious violence or exploitation you can tell them about it: o If the child is at immediate risk call the police on 999 

o By using the Avon and Somerset Police suspected crime form 

o Calling 101 

o In person at a police station 

o Anonymously through Crimestoppers via 0800 555 111 or its Fearless service. 

If you're concerned about the well-being of a child, please contact the council’s First  Response Team on 0117 903 6444.  

Barnardo’s ROUTES service supports young people at the highest risk of exploitation or  violence including young people who have been hurt before or risk hurting others. They work  with young people up to 21. You can self-refer by contacting them directly on 0117 9349726.  

What you can do to help keep your child safe 

We know this can be a worrying time for everyone involved and that you will be keen to keep  your child safe. 

For more information on knife crime and what to do if you are worried by it, visit the Avon  and Somerset Police website

The NSPCC have advice for parents and carers on how to spot the signs of potential  exploitation and how to talk to a young person you’re worried about. Some of the signs you  can look out for include: 

  • going missing from home, staying out late and travelling for unexplained reasons in a relationship or hanging out with someone older than them 
  • being angry, aggressive or violent 
  • being isolated or withdrawn 
  • having unexplained money and buying new things 
  • wearing clothes or accessories in gang colours or getting tattoos 
  • using new slang words 
  • spending more time on social media and being secretive about time online making more calls or sending more texts, possibly on a new phone or phones 

The Ben Kinsella Trust has a free guide to knife harm for parents and carers on talking to  your child about knife harm and provides practical help and guidance on what to do.  

Help and support  

There is help available for people who have been impacted by these events and are  experiencing a reaction associated with trauma.  

Common signs of the impacts of trauma include:  

  • feeling unable or not having anyone to talk to about what happened poor sleep due to intrusive thoughts or disturbing dreams 
  • experiencing overwhelming emotions or feeling numb 
  • feeling as if your relationships are suffering since the incident. 

In the first instance, it’s important that if someone’s wellbeing or mental health is suffering  they call 101 or contact their GP. 

Mental health support in Bristol can be accessed through Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health  Partnership. Adults can call 0800 953 1919 and children can call 0800 953 9599

Information is also available online at: 

Reporting information 

If you have any information which could help our investigation, please report it as soon as  possible. 

You can submit information and footage via the Major Incident Public Portal. Or, if you prefer  to speak to someone by phone, call 101 and give the call handler the reference number  5224039827

Information can also be given 100 per cent anonymously via Crimestoppers.