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Police Investigation

When a crime is reported, the police will review the information carefully and decide what action to take.

Actions may range from a simple caution letter to lengthy and complex police investigations. Police in Canada are required to function independently, free from political or any other kind of interference.

Did You Know?
In a physical or sexual assault, there may be physical evidence which can help to identify the accused or support your allegation. This may include hair samples, bodily fluids or other evidence on your body or clothing. Although this may be difficult for you, it is important that the police get the evidence for their investigation. This may include:

  • making notes about any injuries
  • taking photographs of injuries
  • collecting physical evidence such as clothes and medical samples.

The collection of evidence means it is especially important to report a physical or sexual assault as soon as possible.

Steps the Police May Take During an Investigation

After an incident is reported to police, the following will likely occur:

  • Police officers will meet with the victim in order to investigate the complaint.
  • The officers will take an initial report from the victim and any witnesses involved. This report records exactly what happened and helps ensure that all available evidence is preserved.
  • The police will gather physical evidence at the site of the incident for forensic examination.
  • If there are physical injuries, the police will likely advise the victim to go to the hospital or will see that the victim is taken there right away.
  • Following any medical examination, the police will ask the victim to come to the police station to make a formal statement. If the victim is not physically able to go to the police station, the police will make other arrangements.

Answering Police Questions

Witnesses, victims, and suspects do not have to answer the questions that the police officer or investigator asks, unless a child is at risk. However, these statements can make a big difference in helping police find the correct suspect or in resolving the matter.

Who Decides To Lay Charges

The police do not decide whether or not charges will be laid against someone accused of a crime. Rather, if they decide there is enough evidence, they will refer the case to Crown counsel and recommend whatever charges they feel are appropriate. That referral is called a Report to Crown Counsel and will include victim and witness statements in written, audio or video taped form and all other relevant information. It should be noted that suspects, having the “right of silence” are not required to speak to the police.

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