Investigating crimes, catching criminals and protecting the community are top priorities for the police; but they also have a duty to help victims and witnesses of crime.
If you did not report to the police, you could still be contacted by them after the crime, as a witness or a party involved may have reported it.
If you do report a crime, the police will explain the next stages to you. This might via an email, telephone call or visit. The police should give you the contact details of the police officer dealing with your case and a crime reference number. Make a note of this number somewhere safe – you will need it if you want to contact the police again about the incident, or if you want to make an insurance or compensation claim.
You will also be informed about Victim Services. In Hampshire and Isle of Wight your details are automatically passed to the Victim Care Service for the majority of crimes. We will then be in touch with you to offer support. You may feel okay initially so remember you can change your mind at any point and you can contact us directly at any time for help and support.
Making a statement
Once a crime has been reported, the police will start their investigation and try to find evidence and build a case. As the victim, they’ll need to talk to you and collect as much information as possible so that they can write up a statement. If you find it difficult or upsetting to talk to the police, you can ask for a break at any point.
After the interview, you will be asked to read the statement and check that it is correct. The police will then ask you to sign it. They should also give you the chance to make a separate Victim Personal Statement – this is your chance to say how the crime has affected you, and it will be taken into account if the case goes to trial.
Evidence - building a case
The police may need to collect evidence from where the crime took place, this could be photos or fingerprints. If you’ve been injured in a violent attack or suffered a sexual crime, the police will ask you whether you agree to have a medical examination. This is your decision, it is important to do what is right for you but equally of importance to note that this may be an opportunity to get forensic evidence that could help bring an attacker to justice.
Keeping you informed
Police investigations can take some time. The police will give you the name and phone number of the officer or ‘crime desk’ responsible for your case and will keep you informed of developments – you can also contact the police by calling 101. Have your crime reference number ready so that they can identify your case quickly.
What will happen after the police investigation?
If there is insufficient evidence to charge or caution an offender, no further action will be taken by the police. If the police find the person who committed the crime, there are a number of things that could happen.
- Issuing a caution
The police may decide to caution the person (unless they are a young offender, in which case they may get a reprimand or final warning). With young offenders they may suggest a restorative justice approach. This could include asking you if you want to attend a restorative conference, where you could get the chance to meet the offender along with a trained restorative justice facilitator. A restorative justice meeting is completely voluntary. It can give you the chance to ask the offender questions and tell them how their crime has impacted you.
- Taking the case to court
The case will go to court if the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decides there is enough evidence and it would be in the public’s best interest to prosecute the person accused. The police do not decide the outcome of a case; they collect evidence and pass it to the CPS for decision.
The CPS will consider the impact the crime has had on you, the victim, in making a decision about whether or not they should prosecute. They should also take into account the views of your family. To find out more information visit the CPS website.
- Attending court as a witness
If the CPS decides to prosecute, and the defendant pleads guilty to the accounts put to them, you won’t have to go to court. But if the defendant pleads ‘not guilty’ or denies part of the offence, you may have to give evidence if you were a witness to the crime (some victims are not witnesses if, for example, they were burgled when they were away from home). If you are not needed as a witness at court, the police should still keep you informed about what happens in the case.