Speaking to the police
If you are experiencing violent or aggressive behaviour, have been raped or are concerned for your life or your child’s life – or you have witnessed any of these things happening to someone else – you need to contact the police.
Making the call
If you are experiencing, witnessing or hearing about domestic abuse you should report it to the police if you can. Your call will be recorded and may be used as evidence. Calls will be graded based on the urgency of the response required. You can help by:
- providing as much detail as possible about what has happened
- making a note of the time and date and place the incident(s) took place
- providing the names and addresses of anyone involved, people who saw/heard the abuse or know about what happened
- keeping anything that may confirm what happened e.g. mobile phone video or audio recording, threatening text messages or abusive mail
How the police respond
Police officers will come to wherever the incident has taken place and will take whatever action is needed to make the victim safe. Officers will separate the parties involved so that the victim will have an opportunity to speak, in confidence, about what has happened and any previous incidents, without the offender being around to intimidate or threaten them.
For people who do not speak English or for whom English is not their first language, officers can use an independent interpreter. Where possible the interpreter will be the same gender as the victim, and officers will ensure that they are not connected to the family of the victim or the offender.
Officers will take all circumstances into consideration and will arrest the offender where appropriate to ensure the safety of victims and any children involved. This will give those affected the time to speak to specialist services and get advice. Arrested offenders will be taken to a police station where, depending on the circumstances and whether the offender can be charged with a crime, several things will happen:
- The offender will be interviewed
- The offender may be charged with a criminal offence, e.g. common assault, breach of the peace, grievous bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or harassment
- The offender can put on remand, which means they will stay in prison until they appear in court
- Or the offender may be released on bail, in which case the police may apply for bail conditions in order to restrict the activity of the offender, e.g. they must not return to your home. If the offender breaks these bail conditions, they can be re-arrested.
Officers will collect evidence from all available sources. Statements from victims or witnesses explaining exactly what has happened is ideal. However, if they do not feel able to make a statement, officers who attended the scene can give evidence in court detailing the abuse, injuries or damage they witnessed.
The officers can take photographs of injuries, damage or disturbance caused to property to support the case. Crime scene investigators can be called in to recover evidence, such as fingerprints, take photographs and use other forensic techniques.
Remember, the police are there to help. Their priorities are:
- To ensure the safety and wellbeing of victims, their families, friends and any other people present
- To thoroughly investigate all incidents
- To complete a risk assessment
- To listen to the victim’s wishes
- To actively pursue offenders and bring them to justice
- To ensure that appropriate information and advice is provided to the victim, e.g. support available from other agencies
Find free support
Find free support from your local council or the National Domestic Violence Helpline.