What the police will do
Once you have reported the crime, the police should give you a booklet called Victims of crime. This explains what will happen next. You may also want to make a note of the crime reference number in case you want to make an insurance or Criminal Injuries Compensation claim.
The police should also put you in contact with your local branch of Victim Support, if you want them to. (Or you can contact us yourself at any stage.)
The police will now investigate the crime, and try to find evidence. They will need to talk to you and collect as much information as possible so that they can write up a statement. If you find the interview distressing, you can ask for a break at any point. After the interview, you will be asked to read the statement to check that it is correct, and then sign it.
The police may also need to take samples from where the crime took place, such as photos or fingerprints. If you've been injured in an attack or suffered a sexual crime, the police will ask you whether you agree to having a medical examination.
If you want to, you can also make a victim personal statement (VPS). There is a Home Office leaflet which explains what's involved in this. This gives you a chance to tell the criminal justice agencies about any support you might need, and how the crime has affected you. This will become part of your case papers and will be seen by everyone involved in your case.
If you witness a crime you may be asked to attend an identification parade. Tell the police if you have any particular concerns about doing this although there are measures in place to help protect you.
The police will investigate the crime for as long as they think they can achieve something. Investigations can take some time. They will give you the name and phone number of the officer or 'crime desk' responsible for your case and will keep you informed of significant developments in your case.
The police may decide to offer a caution to adults or reprimand or final warning if the offender is young. The latter could include the opportunity to attend a restorative conference (a facilitated meeting with the offender and their family/carer) if you want to. There may be an opportunity for reparation. (There is more information about this in the section about what happens after court.)
The case will go to court if the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decides that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute the person accused. The interests of the victim are an important factor and, when considering the public interest, Crown Prosecutors will take into account the consequences of their decision for you, as the victim, and any views expressed by you or your family. More information about this is given on the CPS website.
You do not have to attend the trial if the defendant pleads guilty to the offence. If the defendant pleads 'not guilty' or denies an important part of the offence and you witnessed the crime, you are likely to be called to give evidence. If you are not needed as a witness at court, the police should keep you informed about hearing dates and the outcome of the case.
- Crown Prosecution Service website - contains information for victims and witnesses
- Home Office leaflet on Victim Personal Statements
- Home Office leaflet Victims of crime leaflet
- Victims' walkthrough website - contains more information about what the police will do and criminal justice processes
- Contact us
- Going to court
- Specific crimes
- What happens after court