What to do if you witness a crime

  • Dial 999 in an emergency, if a crime is in progress, life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby, or immediate action is needed.
  • Dial 101 to report a non-urgent incident. If a crime has already happened, or to give information about a crime.
  • Report online - hyperlink to report a crime page
  • Report to a police officer at a station or on the street

The officer dealing with your call will need to know:

  • The exact location where police are needed
  • Why they are needed
  • Your name (although you are not required to give it)
  • Your phone number

Remember that no crime is too trivial to report. What might seem like a minor crime to you might not seem minor to the victim. Even crimes that don’t appear to have victims, like vandalism or graffiti can have a negative effect on the community.

If you’re afraid to come forward

If you’ve witnessed a crime, you might be feeling upset or worried. You might have doubts about coming forward to the police or giving evidence in court.

No law says you have to report a crime or give evidence, but remember by coming forward you could bring a criminal to justice. You could also stop the same thing happening to others.

You can contact Goleudy Victim & Witness Service, who will offer you emotional and practical support, personal to you.  They may also tell to you of other specialist services available to help you.

Making a statement

Police might ask you to give a witness statement. This is a written or video-recorded account of what happened. It might be used as evidence in court, although normally witnesses who give evidence at a trial do so in person.

Children under 17, vulnerable adult witnesses and intimidated witnesses might have their statement video recorded. In most cases the police officer will write an account of what you have said, which you will be asked to sign.

If the offence has just happened, you might be asked to tour the area with an officer to help them identify the perpetrator. They might also ask you to look at photographs to see if the suspect is a known criminal.

Once you have given your statement, you will be referred to a witness care officer, who will help you if you have to go to court to give evidence.

Tell the police if you are being threatened

It’s against the law to intimidate a witness or anyone else helping the police.

If you feel threatened in any way, at any time, tell your witness care officer or the police officer in charge of the case. If you’re seriously threatened, call 999.
You can get extra help if the offender has been caught, put in prison, released on bail or convicted. The court can make an order to stop them coming near you, threatening you or intimidating you again. If they carry on, they could face another offence and even be put into prison.

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service can protect your identity during the investigation and the early days of a trial. In some cases, they can even protect your identity during the trial itself.