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How To Report A Crime

Did You Know?

For some crimes, there is a duty under the law to report to the police. This would include child abuse or where a child is at risk.

If you believe that a child (a person under 19) needs protection, you have a legal duty to report the matter to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The circumstances in which a child needs protection are set out in the Child, Family and Community Service Act. This includes specific circumstances in which a child has been, or is likely to be: harmed by the child’s parent; or harmed by someone else and the child’s parent is unable or unwilling to protect the child.

Anybody can report a crime and there is no time limit on reporting. But sometimes, victims or witnesses hesitate to call the police. They may feel afraid. They may not want the person who committed the crime to get into trouble or they may feel that the circumstances involved in the crime are too personal and private.

But you should know, there are good reasons to consider reporting a crime:

  • you or someone else may need protection from the perpetrator
  • you or someone else may need to recover possessions
  • your report may stop the person who committed the crime from committing the crime again, so that no one else becomes their victim
  • there is a better chance of the police catching that person if they are called as soon as possible.

How to Report a Crime

Contact your local police by telephone. Some cities and towns have two telephone numbers for the police. One is an emergency number and the other is a non-emergency number. Call the emergency number if you or someone else is hurt or in danger, or if you see a crime happening. In most areas of the province, the emergency number is 911. If you do not live in a major city, the emergency number is on the inside front cover of the telephone book.

Call the non-emergency number if no one is hurt or in danger. Look in the inside front cover of the telephone book for this number. If you are not sure which number to call, call the emergency number. Tell the police what is happening. They will decide if it is an emergency or not. You can call the police any time – day or night. Or:

  • go to the nearest police station
  • talk to any police officer you see
  • ask someone you trust to call the police for you.

When you speak to the police after the initial report, you may find it helpful to write down the police case or file number and the officer’s name. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s easiest if you talk to the same officer — she or he will be familiar with you and the case.

After a Crime is Reported

After a crime is reported, the police will review it carefully and decide what action to take. Actions may range from a simple caution letter to lengthy and complex investigations. Police in Canada are required to function independently, free from political or any other kind of interference.

When you report a crime to the police, they will make a decision about whether or not to investigate. If there is an investigation, the police will investigate thoroughly and objectively as an independent body.

If you would like the support and information that Victim Services can provide, don’t hesitate to ask the police how best to contact them or call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808.

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