Telling the police
If you witness a crime you have a vital role to play in bringing the criminals to justice. You may well be feeling upset and have doubts about reporting what you have seen. There is no legal obligation to contact the police, but the information you give them could bring a criminal to justice. Reporting the crime to the police could prevent further crimes being committed and protect others from becoming victims.
The criminal justice system can only work effectively with your help.
There are several ways to report crime to the police:
In an emergency you should phone 999 and ask for the police
- Non-emergency situations:
In non- emergency situations you should contact your local police station by phone or go to the nearest police station with a front desk
If you wish to remain anonymous you can report a crime to Crimestoppers by phoning 0800 555111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org and completing the online form
The police take all crime seriously; you can expect them to listen to you, treat you with respect and take a statement. They will also be able to put you in contact with organisations that can help you like Victim Support.
Giving a statement
A witness statement is your written or video recorded account of what happened to you. A police officer will ask you questions and write down what you have said. You will be asked to read it and sign it with your name. When you sign a witness statement you are saying that you agree the statement is a true account of your experience. Your witness statement may be used as evidence in court.
You should be given the name of the officer taking your statement and their rank and number. You should also be given the name of the officer who will be in charge of the case and their contact details. This may be the same officer who takes your statement..
You will be given a leaflet 'Giving a witness statement to the police - what happens next?' This leaflet explains who to contact to find out how the case is progressing and what happens next.
Sometimes people are afraid of making a witness statement. They worry that they will be intimidated by the offender or their friends. This is very rare.
If you are the victim you will also be asked if you want to make a victims personal statement.