Once your report has been made

Once you have reported a crime, you will be given a crime reference number. Make a note of this, along with the name and number of the officer you spoke to, the date it was reported and the name and number of the officer dealing with the incident if it is a different person.

If the information you have given is enough, an initial investigation will be launched. The officer will start to look for other witnesses, evidence such as CCTV footage, and if the offender is known they will find and talk to them.

Depending on the type of crime, how serious the offence is and whether there’s a likelihood of the person committing another offence – or of you being at risk of harm – the offender may be arrested and questioned quite quickly. In some cases it can take quite a long while to identify the offender, or to find them.
You will receive a victim of crime letter, and you will give a witness statement.

Your initial needs and vulnerability will be identified, and Goleudy Victim & Witness Services will contact you to offer you emotional, practical support, personal to you.

There will also be an offer to complete a victim personal statement to explain how the crime has affected you. This can be made at any stage of the process until sentencing at court.

What happens if there’s not enough evidence?

In some cases there is not enough evidence to progress and the case is closed. If this happens, you will be told why, and police will make sure you have help and support.

You will be asked if you want to be notified about future reviews of the case.

What happens if someone is arrested?

You will be informed if an arrest is made.

Where appropriate, restorative justice will be offered. This gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with offenders and explain the real impact of crime. It gives victims a voice and holds offenders to account for what they have done. It does not affect the criminal justice process and has been shown to help victims cope with the impact of crime and reduces the likelihood of reoffending.

The police will question the suspect and decide if there is enough evidence to charge them.

If the investigation is continuing, the police can bail someone without charge to return to the police station at a fixed time and date.

What happens if someone is charged?

Once the police questioning has finished, the police must decide if there is enough evidence to charge the person. Depending on the severity of the crime, the police decide if they can lay charges or if this must be done by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Can the offender be punished out of court?

The suspect might be given an out of court disposal. This means the offender is given a punishment by the police and CPS without going to court. These can include:

  • Caution: A formal warning not to commit a crime again, with one or more conditions attached. If the offender breaks any of these, they might have to go to court. The offender has to admit they committed the crime and sign a paper accepting the conditions before a conditional caution can be given.
  • Reparation: This might include the offender fixing or replacing something they broke, damaged or stole, or giving the victim some money. It may be decided that the offender could help make things right by doing something for the community.
  • Penalty notice disorder (PND): A PND is like a fine. It can only be used in minor crimes, and not in cases where a lot of damage has been caused to property or people. An offender can refuse to accept it and ask to go to court. The police must then decide if an alternative charge is possible. A PND can range from £60 to £90.