Home > The Justice Process > Investigation and Charge For An Offence

Investigation and Charge For An Offence

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 15 Oct 2020 | comments*Discuss
Police Procedure Arrest Simple Caution

The police have certain powers that enable them to investigate crime. These powers include powers of search and arrest. If you are involved in a crime either as a witness, victim or suspect, the police follow strict rules and guidelines to ensure that your rights are protected as they investigate the alleged crime.

Police Procedure

If you are witness or victim to a crime the police will first of all ask you to make a statement. This is the first step the police take in their investigation of the crime that has alleged to have been committed. You could also be asked to look at photographs, CCTV images or even accompany the police to the area where the crime has been committed just in case you can personally identify the person that committed the crime.

Once your statement has been taken the police officer will either read it back to you, or ask you to read what you have just said. If you are happy that the statement is accurate, you’ll be asked to sign it. After the statement is taken you may be asked further questions as the investigation progresses. If the witness or victim of the crime is under 17, and the police think that the case is likely to go to court, a video of the witness or victim’s statement may be taken.

After the statement process the police may need to collect evidence. This could mean specialised officers called Crime Scene Investigators will visit the scene of the crime to look for any evidence that can be used in the case. If you are injured as a result of the crime, the police may want to photograph your injuries for their records. The whole police investigation could take several months to complete so don’t be surprised if the police contact you again for additional information.

Making an Arrest

The police have wide powers of arrest if they suspect that a person has committed a crime. If you are arrested you will be taken to a police station for further questioning. Once at the police station you are entitled to have a solicitor present while you are being questioned. If you are under 17 an adult must be present while the questioning takes place.

After the questioning the police has one of several options open to them: They can release the suspect without charge, as they don’t have enough evidence to prosecute. The suspect can be charged, or if the suspect has committed a minor offence, they can give a formal caution that is now known as a simple caution. If the suspect is under 17 years of age and the police have enough evidence for a charge they will refer the case to the Youth Court or the Youth Diversion Scheme in Northern Ireland. A suspect is then known as a defendant as they have been formally charged with a crime.

Stop and Search

As part of their powers the police can use stop and search as part of their investigation. If the police stop you they will:
  • Ask you where you are going.
  • Ask you to turn out your pockets.
  • Ask you to remove items of clothing.
  • Ask for your personal details.

Your car or other vehicle can also be searched even if you are not present. You are also not required to give this information, but if the police have a strong suspicion that you are guilty of a crime, they can arrest you. Stop and search is usually used on an ad hoc basis by police officers on their beats, but it can also form part of a wider investigation that the police are currently involved in.

After the Investigation

The next step after the police have completed their investigation is to decide whether they have a strong enough case to go to court. The police have to send all of their evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who will decide whether a case should go to court.

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I am taken into custody and at the booking in and processing initial stage. I say, please can we deal with this in less than hours reaching double figures and I am guilty of possessing five pounds woth of cocaine and will admit this in interview. They'res no witnesses,home searches or anything else to be done. I'm still locked up for 13 hours and then given a caution. Why is it always this way for simple cases ?
Olly - 15-Oct-20 @ 2:40 PM
Police called me starting someone had reported me running a red light but I’m 90% sure I never & didn’t accept the charge. They have 1 witness that said I did this but no video evidence! All I remember was the person in the middle of the crossroads walking diagonally waving their arms! I thought nothing of this as I believed it was my right of way! The road leading to this junction is long & can see the traffic lights from a good distance away! Seems like it’s such a waste of police time
Jas - 21-Jan-20 @ 9:20 PM
Im 36 year old from Bulgarian nationality and i aplied for setled status!when i got answer im on ongoing investigation or prosecution for drug posesion from 11/11/17 basicaly two years ago!!i recall one night police came to our flat and we are caught with somme amphetamine personal use!!!house was searched but no arest made!!!what should i do?!
Dar - 21-Dec-19 @ 8:15 PM
I was invited to a voulntrey interview by the police last year because my ex girlfriend said I had rapped her through out the relationship I was with her for 5 yearbut when i was questioned the police told me they had been investagting it for over a year it's been over 12 month since I was questioned and I havent herd anything backthe police did not arrest me but the last I heard my mam phoned the officer up and he told her they are investagting her now ... what are the chances of it going to court
Billyman - 15-Sep-19 @ 4:17 PM
Just over 2 years ago someone pulled my hair and wouldnt let me leave her house. I had had a lot to drink but thought i could get out the window and i didnt feel safe and comfortable enough to stay and she wouldnt let me out anyway, i fell and smashed my face lost my front tooth fractured another, bashed my face up , and my legs were swollen and saw. It would all never have happened if she just let me out in the first place. The nxt day when i left hospital and went to get my stuff she verbally abused me the whole time. I had loss of earning and ive had to pay alot of money to get my teeth fixed. Does anyone think i have a case? Many thanks
Smiley - 22-Aug-19 @ 10:23 AM
I been scamed how do i prove my innocent
man - 18-May-19 @ 11:12 PM
I been scamed how do I prove my innocent ?Please help me
man - 18-May-19 @ 11:10 PM
My 19 year old son was driving a car around 28th Dec 2018 which he wrote off by hitting a wall. The car wasn’t his, had no tax, no insurance and although wasn’t stolen was owned by a 16 year old. My son also had no license or insurance. He was also under the influence of cannabis. My son called an ambulance at the scene as he and a passenger had minor injuries. Ambulance and police arrived at the scene and took them to hospital where my son had a blood test requested by police to test for drug driving. He’s heard absolutely nothing since and it was 18 weeks ago. He was not charged with anything at the time or made to give a statement. My question is: is there a legal timeframe for the police to charge him? He was mortified by the incident and wants to get on with his life but not sure if he can now continue with driving lessons etc??
Mum - 28-Apr-19 @ 7:14 PM
My dog reacted to a neighbour waving a bag of rubbish at her and when a glass jar smashed at her feet she jumped forward and nipped the woman. The same day the police came and took her and I made a statement. The police have so far taken over seven weeks with little useful information or updates. I am concerned that they are dragging this out blaming cutbacks and the availability of the officer to carry out his duties. CPS have requested more info but it is slow. How long can the investigation take if witnesses are not providing the 'additional' information? My dog is old and will not understand why she has been languishing in kennels for over 7 weeks. I only got senior officer responses because I complained using an online Met. update form. How long can this drag on for
RAYNA - 16-Apr-19 @ 11:14 PM
My 17 year was assaulted by two 18year old girls bullies she reported the assault to the police they told her to go to police station 48hours after the incident to give a statement which she did.they have told her it could take up to twenty eight days to deal with it is that correct
Scorpio - 2-Oct-18 @ 8:55 PM
I had a number of telephone calls to CC Med Hughes who told me of course that it was clearly obvious that I had never met miss macintosh let alone murder her!
none - 13-May-18 @ 10:30 PM
I have been released from prison on a life licence and I have had people Google me and send threats and making aligations against me and the police and probation are punishing me and I am not the one in the wrong but nothing is happening to the people that are majoring these false claims and sending me threats
Tom - 7-Feb-18 @ 8:23 PM
@Snowy - how long is a piece of string....CPS can take ages to come to a conclusion. Spice, though.... not nice.
Raydv - 28-Nov-17 @ 2:59 PM
My husband was arrested in may this year for intent to supply hmp he admitted everything they released him under investigation were now at the end of November how long will this take being as he admitted to it straight away. The drug was 2oz of spice
Snowy - 26-Nov-17 @ 3:15 PM
@Bucklebags - it can take ages to investigate a crime, to interview people, get all the stories, look at CCTV footage on the night, etc.
DaNN - 2-Nov-17 @ 3:43 PM
My friend and I were at a club where someone started on my friend! I was in a different part of the building and wasn't aware of the altercation that happened Between them! The girl was apparently shouting and screaming at my friend and when I arrived on the scene the girl was going crazy trying to attack me as soon as I appeared. I noticed she had a small cut on her face She was being held back by 2 guys so we never made contact with each other! That night me and my friend were both arrested my friend for ABH and me for common assault! We spent 14 hours in a cell I didn't know why until I was interviewed the next day why I was even there! Turns out the girl said my friend glassed her and I punched her! This did not happen and there is cctv to show I didn't hit anyone! I was not there when she had the altercation with my friend even though she said I was? I was released pending investigation but this is now 4 weeks later and I've heard nothing! There was also an independent witness there that we can't track down who can verifymy story! I also havea clean record. Why is it taking so long?
Bucklebags - 31-Oct-17 @ 6:21 PM
If a theft of a good deal of money was reported to police n I gave a witness statement n bsnk statements n text messages admitting this person has took money from a pensioner with dementia, would my evidence be enough to charge. It’s been referred to cid approx 6 weeks ago for safeguarding n further investigation can I complain about the length of time it’s taking to charge this person. As the victim is 83 n by time she’s chsrged n made to pay it back is he even going to still be alive. Can we ask the courtsshould he pass away before she’s psid it all bsvk can it then be paid to his son whom would’ve got it all anyway in his dads will had itnot been stolen from his bsnk
Nelly - 19-Oct-17 @ 3:45 AM
@Han - it will help. But if he's committed a crime he will be punished for it as otherwise every person who committed a crime would turn their lives around if they thought they could avoid prison. He might get a suspended sentence you don't know, it all really depends on how much he was intending to supply etc.
TRB - 4-Jul-17 @ 3:19 PM
My partner was arrested in November for intent to supply, he was then released I thought charge. 9 months later they've charged him to crown court. We've now got a baby on the way & he's started his own business .. their just dragging him back into that world. He's so depressed over it all. We just feel like there's no way to escape now. What are we supposed to do? Will it go in our favour that things are not the same.
Han - 20-Jun-17 @ 1:57 PM
Police apparently opened up an investigation into an allegation of some sort made by my daughter in December 2016. Local police force have not contacted me but local authority claim they are investigating me. I have contacted the relevant police force on a number of occasions within these four months but still no response from them. I had a criminal solicitor contact them to which an email was sent out stating they don't want to speak to me but then 2 weeks later the investigating officer went back out to speak to my daughter 4 months after the apparent allegation. Bearing in mind my daughter is 5 years old now. Firstly how long can they claim to investigate me for? Secondly can they legally leave four month gaps between questioning a 5 year old child? Thirdly can I claim this to be emotional torture due to the mental health implications it has had on myself? Or possibly injustice and discrimination?
Christoffee - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:51 PM
Sjj- Your Question:
Hi. A friend of mine has been falsely accused of rape by a very bitter,jealous ex partner.she made the allegation in May 2016.he was interviewed in December 2016. He is at his wits end.talking about suicide etc if they believe her over him and he goes to prison.I'm just wondering how long the cps and police etc have to investigate before case is dropped as these months are feeling like years and years to him and really affecting his mental health. Many thanks for any information

Our Response:
According to the CPS: 'The police will always look for corroboration or supporting evidence (such as medical or scientific evidence, CCTV evidence, or eyewitnesses to events prior to or after the incident) but it is not essential and a prosecution can still go ahead without it. However, the prosecution must always prove the defendant's guilt. Cases may fail because a jury cannot decide between what the victim says and what the defendant says. This is why it is essential to obtain all possible forensic and scientific evidence as soon as possible. The earlier a rape is reported, the higher the chance of this being done, and the higher the chance of building a strong prosecution case.' We cannot comment upon how long this may take as each case is different and has a significant amount of variables to make it impossible to calculate time frames. However, the organisation FASO, will be able to give your friend more information and be able to support him personally with the emotional side of this accusation, please see link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 10-Mar-17 @ 11:19 AM
Hi. A friend of mine has been falsely accused of rape by a very bitter,jealous ex partner.she made the allegation in May 2016.he was interviewed in December 2016. He is at his wits end..talking about suicide etc if they believe her over him and he goes to prison. I'm just wondering how long the cps and police etc have to investigate before case is dropped as these months are feeling like years and years to him and really affecting his mental health. Many thanks for any information
Sjj - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:19 AM
My pertner has been arrested on suspicion of making a threat to kill I was present at the time the phone call was made and he didn't once do this what will happen when the police take him to the station to be questioned and will he be let out n will he be allowed a phone call
Sammy - 3-Dec-16 @ 12:30 AM
Luz - Your Question:
A friend was caught stealing from work, it was there last day at the job so there wasn't any need to be suspended. However this happened three weeks ago, the police were involve but the suspect hadn't heard anything from the police, why would this be

Our Response:
It may be that investigations are still taking place. However, it is difficult to predict as we don't have the information.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Oct-16 @ 2:24 PM
A friend was caught stealing from work, it was there last day at the job so there wasn't any need to be suspended. However this happened three weeks ago, the police were involve but the suspect hadn't heard anything from the police, why would this be
Luz - 19-Oct-16 @ 12:55 AM
Roy Moss - Your Question:
My daughter has been commited to crown court for sentence for theft of money. She is very scared and worried. Will she get a prison sentance. She is seeing social services at mo for mental illness and been told to take some time off work.

Our Response:
You can see more via the Sentencing Council here. Your daughter's legal representative will also be able to give more of an indication of the seriousness level of the crime committed.
CourtroomAdvice - 25-Jul-16 @ 12:46 PM
My daughter has been commited to crown court for sentence for theft of money. She is very scared and worried. Will she get a prison sentance. She is seeing social services at mo for mental illness and been told to take some time off work.
Roy - 24-Jul-16 @ 6:25 PM
There was an incident a few weeks ago involving my boyfriend, my sister, my sisters neighbour and myself..there was a bit of a scuffle and my boyfriend and I have done our statements, my sisters been at work and hasn't had time to do hers and now she's apparently wanted and is going to be arrested? We were the victims so surely you can't be arrested for being a victim???
none - 17-Nov-15 @ 11:14 PM
@none, you need to contact police and tell them about this mistake they should then be able to inform you how to get it removed from your record.
pop - 11-Sep-14 @ 9:38 AM
I was arrested at my home 13/feb/2007 by murder squad police from London on suspicion of murder. My partner Eileen Travers was the official police driver to the Chief Constable Med Hughes, i was also a police support driver. There was a murder in 1977 of a prostitute Jane Macintosh. She sadly met her end at the post house hotel, Bayswater Road London W2. In 1977 i was arrested by police, put on an ID parade and 20 hours later released. End of story. Fast forward to 2010, i paid £10 to SYP and low and behold it stated that i was on bail awaiting trial for the murder of Jane Macintosh, court to be allocated later. This is quite obviously a mistake (clerical) how can I find out if my record is clean as i wish to do charity work for St Lukes Hospice. Thank you.
none - 10-Sep-14 @ 4:21 PM
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