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Reporting a Crime to the Police

There are many reasons why it may be a good idea to call the police to report a crime. You may need protection or help getting your things back. If the person is caught it may prevent somebody else from becoming their next victim. If you want to make an insurance claim or a claim for victim's compensation you will need to report the incident to the police.

There are also some situations where the law requires you to report an incident. For example, in Saskatchewan anyone who has reason to believe that a child is abused or neglected has a legal duty to report it. As well, certain types of vehicle collisions must be reported to the police including when...

  • it is a hit and run
  • the vehicle needs to be towed
  • anyone is injured
  • a driver was impaired
  • it is an out-of-province vehicle
  • it is an unregistered vehicle

Sometimes the decision about involving the police will be out of your hands. For example, someone else may see the crime being committed and call the police. Deciding whether to call the police can be a major decision. Once the police are involved they will make certain choices about what should happen next.

Sometimes victims do not want to involve the police because they are afraid of some kind of retaliation from the person that harmed them. Sometimes victims feel ashamed and want to keep the incident to themselves. If the person who committed the crime is a friend or family member, a victim may not want to get them into trouble or may feel pressured by relatives not to report the crime. It may help to remember that you can get someone else to make the call for you. Some police services may not take third party reports for incidents other than domestic disputes.

If you decide to call the police, the sooner you call the better. This gives the police a better chance of finding and preserving evidence and of catching the person who committed the crime.

When the Police Arrive

Depending on the circumstances, the police may come to the crime scene or you may go to the police station to report the crime. When the police respond to an emergency they will take steps to protect anyone in danger. The police will look for evidence and preserve evidence.

Depending on the situation this may mean that you do not have access to the crime scene for a period of time. This may mean that you cannot use property, like a car or your home, for a period of time. If a death is involved it can also mean that the victim's body cannot be removed until all the necessary evidence has been collected.

The police may take property into custody, dust for fingerprints or take you for medical attention. In most communities, the police can call Victim Services in to assist you if you wish, or they can tell you how to contact the nearest Victim Services program at a later time.

Giving a Statement

When you report a crime to the police you will normally be asked to give a full statement. A police officer will talk to you and ask you questions about what happened. It is important to tell the police everything you remember about the incident. The police may ask you to write out your statement or they might write the statement up for you to look over. Usually you will be asked to sign the statement. In some cases your statement may be recorded or videotaped. You can ask for a copy of your written statement.

It is important to carefully look over your statement. You may be upset or even in shock right after the crime, so make sure you take the time you need to get your statement right. If the criminal is caught and there is a trial you may be a witness. As a witness you could be cross-examined by the defence about your statement. It is a crime to give a false statement.

Investigation by Police

Victims have the right to information about the investigation including whether anyone has been charged with a crime.

Once a crime is reported to the police they will start an investigation. The police may need to talk to you again during the investigation. They may ask you to make another statement. You may be asked to identify a suspect or recovered property.

How and when you are given information about an investigation may vary. You should make note of the badge number and contact information for the officer in charge of the investigation, as well as the police file number, so that you can talk to someone if you feel you are not getting the information you need.

The police will tell you what steps they will be taking. You can find out if the investigation is ongoing and if charges are likely. You can ask the police to let you know if they lay charges. Some Victim Services programs can help you access this information.

You can ask for the names of the accused after charges are laid. Once the matter goes to court the names of adult accused are public record. The police will not give you information that could interfere with the investigation or affect someone's safety or security. They will also not disclose the names and contact information of other victims or witnesses.

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PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.