Local NHS and Merseyside Police team up for Safer Sleep Week

Safer Sleep Week 11-17 March 2024
Safer Sleep Week 11-17 March 2024

Safer Sleep Week (11-17 March) aims to raise awareness of sudden, unexpected death of an infant syndrome (SUDI) and the safer sleep advice that reduces the risk of it occurring.

Merseyside Police and partners are using Safer Sleep Week to promote an initiative they have developed which aims to reduce the number of SUDI cases across Merseyside, and will host an event at Merseyside Police HQ.

Initially piloted in Liverpool the programme, which was one of the first initiatives of its kind in the country, has now rolled out across Sefton due to its success. 

The idea came about after Merseyside Police approached the Health Visiting team, run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, who work with children and families in the antenatal period up to age five years in Liverpool to see how they could collaborate to prevent SUDI tragedies. 

Frontline officers often see children and their families in their home environment during times of crisis and by enabling them to recognise unsafe sleep practices, then advice can be given and risk can be reduced. To facilitate this Merseyside Police developed an app to allow frontline officers to notify NHS Mersey Care instantly when they identify signs of unsafe sleeping, providing a faster response and offering an opportunity to engage with families and provide them with help and advice from the experts. 

Since the initiative was launched in Liverpool, in 2023, 30 referrals have been made, which means that the risk of SUDI has reduced for a number of children.

Constable Craig Walsh, who developed the app, said:


“This initiative is a great example of the preventative work that we carry out every day. Sefton have recently followed Liverpool in coming on board and we look forward to rolling it out further across Merseyside to support more families and prevent them experiencing the heartache of losing a child.

“By identifying small but important changes and providing the right advice we can hopefully reduce the risk of harm for those families we come into contact with.”

Lisa Marshall, Mersey Care’s Operational Manager for Children and Young People (0-5) said:


“We’ve had considerable success with the Safer Sleep initiative alongside Merseyside Police, initially across Liverpool and now into Sefton. Anyone who’s experienced a sudden and unexpected death of an infant, which we used to refer to as a cot death, will know that it’s an extremely tragic and traumatic experience for any family and we want to stop this happening.

“Merseyside Police will often come across these situations and so for them to be able to give reminders to families of the importance of safe sleep is vital. They’ll then inform the health visitor so they can review and make a clinical decision whether to contact the family to offer additional support.”

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Named GP for Safeguarding, Dr Bryony Kendall, said:


“It is a great privilege to be involved with this innovative multi-agency work, that is reducing the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) in the Merseyside region. 

“The death of a child is a profound and devastating loss – not just for parents and guardians – but for siblings, grandparents, extended family, carers, friends and the wider community. The impacts range far and wide and can last a lifetime. Of the babies who die of unexplained causes before their first birthday, there are strong links to unsafe sleeping practices – so embedding this work as a standardised clinical pathway goes a long way to protecting our most vulnerable.”

For more info on Safer Sleep Week, visit the Lullaby Trust website.