The initial steps that we take to record the crime in the first instance will always be the same, ensuring that we gather all of the relevant information and keep you informed.
You can find out what happens after you report a crime, when you can expect a crime reference number and how often we’ll contact you below.
1. The crime report is received
We receive crime reports via a number of different ways, with the most common being a call to our emergency and non-emergency contact centre. This could be by calling 999 in an emergency, 101 in a non-emergency situation or using our online reporting and web chat services.
First, we’ll make sure that we’re the correct police force to investigate the crime you've reported. For example, if it took place in a train station, this would be a matter for British Transport Police.
Once we’ve established we’re the correct police force, we’ll take the report and issue you with a crime reference number. How quickly we can do this depends on the complexity of the incident and the number of other authorities involved.
2. IMU review the report
If the report requires a further investigation, it will be passed to the Investigations Management Unit (IMU) who will review the report, make sure that the relevant information has been collected and ensure that it has the evidence required to investigate further.
At this point, the IMU may decide to close the case due to a number of the following reasons;
- There is not enough evidence to pursue the investigation
- There are no witnesses
- Witnesses and parties involved are not willing to come forward
- The victim will not provide a statement to the police
If the IMU feel that the crime needs to be investigated further, then an investigation will begin and another reference number will be given to you.
3. Crime report is sent to investigating officers
At this point, the report will be allocated to an officer or team in a particular business area around the force. For example, if a report of sexual assault was received, this may get passed on to our Rape Investigation Team to investigate.
It should be noted that it won’t be until this point that an officer will be able to make contact with you, as there is a process involved in getting the case to the correct investigating officer or team.
Next, an officer will conduct an initial investigation. This could involve:
- talking to witnesses
- assessing the scene of the crime
- reviewing CCTV or video footage
- gathering other evidence such as forensic samples
- searching our intelligence database
4. Possible outcomes
There are two possible outcomes to an investigation. Once we’ve made a decision, an officer will contact you to explain and offer any advice, if needed.
4.1 The investigation will be closed
If we decide to close the investigation, it’s probably because we've completed our initial steps and there are no further leads we can proportionately follow at that time.
Sometimes we receive new information or discover new evidence, in which case we can reopen the investigation and send you an update.
Regardless of whether this happens, your report and the information we gather as part of the investigation will become a vital part of how we police. It helps decide where and when we use police resources to detect and prevent crime.
If you are a victim of crime, you have the right to request an independent review of our decision if you are not happy with our decision not to prosecute a suspect. More information is available on our webpage Request an independent review
4.2 Your case will be investigated further
If we decide to look into your case further we’ll assign an investigating officer to you. They’ll act as your single point of contact during the investigation, answering any of your questions and keeping you updated as the case progresses.
If you need to provide a statement, they’ll be able to talk you through it.
More information is available on our webpage Intelligence reporting - what happens next?