In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime
2. What happens after you report a crime?
3. Victims' Right to Review scheme
4. Giving a witness or victim statement
5. Going to court
6. What happens after the trial?
7. Victim and witness support organisations

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:

  1. We’ll close the investigation
  2. 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.

If you need to give a statement, they’ll talk you through it. 

In the unlikely event you need to go to court, they’ll introduce you to a member of the Witness Care Unit who'll guide you through each step of the process.

Updating us on a crime

If you have new information or evidence about an existing crime, you can contact us to update an existing case or report online.

Requesting an update on a crime

If you want an update on a crime that's already been reported, contact us to request an update on a crime report online.

Next: Victims' Right to Review scheme