Your rights

You have the right to contact the police and be kept informed about the investigation if you’re:

  • the victim of a crime
  • a close relative of someone who died because of a crime - for example their partner, child or sibling

You have different rights if you’re the victim of a crime in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

When you report the crime

The police must give you:

  • written confirmation of the crime you’ve reported
  • a crime reference number
  • contact details for the police officer dealing with your case

They must also:

  • tell you clearly what will happen next
  • tell you how often they’ll give you an update on their investigation
  • carry out a ‘needs assessment’ to find out what support you should get
  • ask a victim support organisation to contact you within 2 days

They must also ask if you want to write a statement about how the crime has affected you. This is called a ‘victim personal statement’. It can be used later when the court is deciding on a punishment.

During the police investigation

The police must give you updates on their investigation, and tell you within 5 days when a suspect is:

  • arrested or charged
  • set free or released on bail
  • given a caution, reprimand, final warning, or penalty notice

When the police have finished their investigation, they can pass the information to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who then decide if there’s enough evidence to take the case to court.

If the police or the CPS decide to drop the charge, they must tell you within 5 days. You can ask for a review if you disagree with their decision.


The police might give some information about the crime to the media to help with the investigation. They’ll normally ask your permission before they do this.

If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault or rape, it’s against the law for anyone to publish your name, photo or anything else that could identify you.