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Police procedures

The police are responsible for investigating the crime committed.

The police will need to ask you details of the incident which will include:

  • your name and address
  • when, where, what and how you became a victim of crime
  • brief details about what happened to you. You may also be interviewed by a specialist officer at a later stage.
  • a description of the attacker (what they looked or sounded like, what they were wearing, how old they were) even if you know who they are. They want to be able to circulate a description so police officers on patrol can look out for them.
  • details of witnesses (if any) so the police can follow up to gather evidence.

The officer will assess your immediate needs and if medical attention is required, will attend to this as a priority. In some instances, such as sexual assault, you may be asked to undergo an intimate forensic examination to collect samples.

Medical examination

You will need to be examined by a doctor who will treat and record or photograph your injuries for future reference and provide a medical report for court purposes if required. This could be your own doctor or a doctor at a hospital emergency centre.

This examination is necessary to collect evidence to help with the investigation process. Medical staff have been specially trained for this kind of examination, and will treat you sensitively and explain exactly what happens during the examination.

The police will want to collect the clothing you were wearing when assaulted to preserve possible forensic evidence.

With sexual assault in the Perth metropolitan area, you will usually be referred to the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC). In regional WA, there is a list of other medical centres where this examination can be conducted by specially trained doctors and the police can help you with this wherever you are.

For children who are the victims of child abuse, physical or sexual assault, the Child Protection Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital is available to provide medical care, conduct examinations and provide specialist counselling services.

Both areas will liaise with the police. New laws being passed require people in positions of responsibility (including teachers and doctors) to report offences committed on children as part of a mandatory reporting process. This is designed to protect children at risk.  

Statements

After attending to your immediate personal needs, you may need to talk to a police officer again. Police will ask you to talk about the crime in as much detail as you can remember. You may be asked the same question several times - this is not because police don't believe you, rather the officer taking your statement may be trying to get more information from you.

Your statement will then be written from the notes taken during the meetings with police. You will be asked to read the statement, or it can be read back to you, to make sure it is what happened to you and you will then be asked to sign the statement.

This can take quite a long time and include some very detailed questions. Your evidence is critical in helping the police find the person who committed this crime against you and bringing them to justice.  If you get tired, tell the police officer. They will understand that it's better if you rest and try again later.

Video recording

If you are 16 or younger, the police may prefer to make a video recording of your account of the incident.  They will talk this through with you and the person who is legally responsible for you.

You may still be asked to give evidence however it will not be in a courtroom setting where you might face the person that the police have charged.

Identification

You may already know who is responsible for the crime committed against you. However, if it was a stranger, the police can work with you to help identify them:

  • You may recognise their face in photographs the police show you. For legal reasons, the viewing is recorded on video. 

  • You may be able to describe them so a police artist can create a ‘composite image’ that you agree looks like the person who committed the crime against you. This could help with identifying the person through various means including the media.

  • The police may show you CCTV footage and ask if you can identify the offender.

The investigation

The investigators will prepare a report that will include statements from witnesses and also technical and forensic reports. The investigation may result in the prosecution of a person and there is a range of charges that may be laid, depending on the circumstances.

Last updated: 18-Feb-2013

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