Every crime is different so every investigation is different, but any investigation starts with the same steps to make sure we have all the information we need.
On this page we'll explain what happens after you report a crime, when you'll get a crime reference number and when we’ll contact you.
Assessing your report
First, we’ll make sure that we’re the right police force to investigate the crime. For example, if it took place in a train station, British Transport Police (BTP) would be the right force; we'd send them your report and they'd investigate.
Once we know we’re the right police force to investigate, we’ll give you a crime reference number. How quickly we can do this depends on the type of crime and the number of other authorities involved in the case.
We’ll then look at the information we've got and decide if we can investigate your report further. If we decide we can't investigate your report, we'll contact you to explain why.
Our decision is based on four key factors:
vulnerability of the victim (eg is the victim in danger?)
seriousness of the crime
likelihood of solving it
best use of our resources
If we can investigate further, we'll take some initial steps. These could include:
talking to witnesses
assessing the crime scene
checking CCTV or video footage
searching our intelligence database (to see if other crimes have happened in the area, or if we hold information related to the case)
After we’ve done an initial investigation
There are two possible outcomes:
We’ll close the investigation
We’ll move forward with the investigation
When we’ve made a decision, we'll contact you to let you know.
Closing an investigation
If we close the investigation, it’s probably because we've completed our initial steps and there are no other leads we can follow at that time.
Sometimes we get new information or discover new evidence, in which case we can reopen the investigation and update you.
Whether or not this happens, your report and the information we have is valuable. It helps decide where and when we use police resources to track down and prevent crime.
Moving forward with an investigation
We’ll assign an investigating officer to you. They’ll be your contact during the investigation, answering your questions and keeping you updated.
In the unlikely event you need to go to court, the investigating officer will support you up to the first hearing. Following the first hearing a member of the Witness Care Unit will contact you directly and will guide you each step of the way.