If you decide to report a crime to police, they will need to talk to you to find out the details of what happened and who was involved, before they can start an investigation. It can be quite upsetting and difficult to talk about what has happened to you, but the police are there to help you, to hear what you have to say, and to try and find and arrest the person who committed the crime.
There will usually be a first conversation where you give the police basic details about what happened. This could be at a police station or somewhere else like school or home.
After this if the police think a crime has been committed they will take your witness statement.
Sometimes the police write this down, but usually with children and young people they take a video statement, sometimes called achieving best evidence (ABE) interview.
This is to make it easier for you to tell the police what has happened in your own words and use drawings and pictures if this helps.
This section will help you understand what will happen when you report a crime.
Sometimes the police learn about a crime that may have been committed on a child. This might be from an offender, another victim or may come from investigation work they are doing on another crime.
If the police come to talk to you about a crime they think might have happened to you - it can be a big shock. It's important to remember that they have come to see you because they are concerned about you and have a duty to protect you.
It can be a good opportunity to tell the police what has happened and get some help but if you don't want to talk to the police you don't have to. It's important that whatever you do say is the truth as it could impact on another case.
Although initially you may find it embarrassing to discuss details about what happened, police officers who talk to children are usually experienced officers who will do their best to put you at ease. They have heard lots of difficult stories before.
It's important to be truthful. No one will judge you even if you had been doing something wrong like drinking or taking drugs before the crime. It's important to let the police officer know the full details as it can help with the investigation and alert officers that you could need medical attention.
Never be frightened to ask questions, explain things in your own words or ask for a break if you feel you need one.
Photographs can be very useful as evidence. The police use them as supporting evidence in court or to help get a court order to protect you from the person (or people) who hurt you.
Sometimes the police may take photographic evidence of:
They will keep the photos safe and confidential as evidence that will help in the investigation and potential court case.
Video recording is mostly used if you are under the age of 18 or are the victim of a serious crime. You will usually be asked to go to a room with video equipment in, which are in certain police stations. In some cases the police may bring recording equipment to your home or other place that you have agreed.
The police officer who is carrying out the interview will explain how it's done before the recording begins. If you are a young person making a video recorded statement, a supporter will be with you during the interview.
The police officer will not discuss the evidence that you are going to give before the interview is recorded. This is to make sure that you give the most accurate description of what you saw or know on camera.
After reporting a crime, the police will give you a crime reference number. You should keep this number safe because you will need it if you want to make an insurance claim or apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Keeping the number will also make it easier to check back and get updates on the police investigation into the crime.
No, you do not have to provide a statement if you do not want to. But if you choose not to the police may not have enough information to be able to investigate the crime. If you feel worried about making a statement, you should know that you do not have to give it immediately.
After you have made and signed your statement, it might become part of the case and the lawyers and the person that has been arrested will be able to read it.
The Victims' Code enables you to have additional rights and support when:
If you tell the police that you are frightened of being hurt because you have reported a crime, they will help keep you safe. If you are likely to see the offender, then having a safety plan and trusted adults who can help you is really important, whilst the police investigation is on-going.
If you are worried about being intimidated or hurt because you have reported then tell the police. Any threats or attempts to hurt you should be written down - make sure you include:
Taking action and logging all incidents, no matter how small, will help the police take action to protect you.
You can report a crime in many different ways but if the police decide that it is a crime then a police officer will meet with you to talk about what has happened. This could be at home, at school, at the police station or somewhere else.
When the police officer meets with you they will ask you for the basic details about
Having those things in your mind when you first talk to the police will help. You can always write it down so you don't forget it.
Try and think carefully about what happened, so that you can give as much accurate information as possible to the police. If they ask you a question and you don't know the answer - it's fine to say I don't know. But it's important not to guess, or to make things up; it's much better to just tell the police in your own words what happened to you and anything you know about who did it.
If you are under 18 years it is important when you first talk to the police that you have someone with you that you trust. This could be a parent or family friend but normally they should be over 18 years old. They should be able to stay with you while you make this initial statement to police.
I have been chosen to sit with you in the interview room to help you feel more comfortable and safe, but I can't help you answer any questions. The police should ask you who you would like to support you. This might include a social worker, teacher or parent / carer. I will not be able to support you if I am also a witness.
I am an intermediary and my job is to help you communicate your story in your video interview. I will meet with you to find out what might help you tell your story. We can use different ways to help you communicate, including:
I can also help if you use any special means of communication or a communication aid.
I will also advise the police on how best to communicate with you, to help you understand the questions you are being asked. I will tell them if I think you do not understand what is being asked. If the case comes to court I can support you if you are a witness.
I am an interpreter and my job is to help you communicate with the court if you speak a different language or you use British Sign Language. I will only say the words that you communicate.
If you use communication aids to say what you want, then these can be used when you give your statement. These could be:
You may also be appointed an intermediary who will help you with your communication.
The police may ask you some quite personal questions about what happened, but they need to get as many facts as possible for when the case goes to court. Remember, no-one is blaming you for what has happened, or thinks that it's your fault. If they ask you a question and you don't know the answer; it's fine to say you don't remember. But it's important not to guess, or to make things up; it's much better to just tell the police in your own words what happened to you and anything you know about who did it.
Try and think carefully about what happened, so that you can give as much accurate information as possible to the police. You might not remember everything during your ABE interview but anything else you remember later can still be used to support your first video statement.
It's important to be honest. Remember you are not to blame and the police are not here to judge you.
If during the interview you feel tired, upset or confused, or feel like you need a break, it's okay to ask to stop for a while.
It is important that everyone can be seen and heard when you give your video witness statement. This is so that if the case goes to court the judge can see and hear your evidence properly. There will be a few cameras in the room to make sure everything can be seen (a bit like CCTV).
Sometimes the ABE is just a single video interview but if you remember other things about what happened after your first interview then you may do more than one.
If the case eventually comes to court, this video will be shown so that the judge, jury, lawyers/ barristers and defendant can hear your statement about what happened. The video might be edited to a shorter version before it is shown. A video statement means you do not have to repeat your whole story as the court can watch what you said at the time, but if you are a witness you might be asked questions about what you said - this is called cross examination.
If you are a witness you will be able to see your video again before it is shown at court to remind you what you said - this is called a memory refresher.
If, after your first conversation, the police think a crime has been committed they will take your witness statement. Sometimes the police write this down, but usually with children and young people they take a video statement, sometimes called achieving best evidence (ABE) interview.