How do I make a complaint to police?
If you are a victim of crime or if you know about a crime, there are several ways you can let police know:
- if it is urgent, call 000 and ask to be put through to police
- call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 (this is a free call)
- call or drop into your local police station
- drop into a Police Beat
Do I have to say who I am?
Some complaints to police can be made anonymously (like information given to Crime Stoppers), but there is often a better chance of an offender being convicted and sentenced in court if you are prepared to make a formal statement and give evidence in court. You cannot get compensation for injuries or property damage if the offender is convicted but the court doesn’t know you suffered a loss.
If the offender goes to court, will I have to give evidence?
If the police think there is enough evidence they will charge the offender.
Most offenders who are charged by police plead guilty so the witnesses and victims never have to go to court. If you make a formal written statement to police, your address is kept secret and is not given by police or the court to the offender.
If the offender pleads not guilty, you might have to give evidence at a hearing in court.
If you are the victim of a sexual crime, or a child, there are special ways the court can help you and protect you when you give evidence.
Is there any alternative to going to court?
Yes, police and the courts can now refer some cases to a conference, which is like mediation, so that the victim and offender (even if the offender is a child) can meet in a safe place to work things out. This is voluntary. If you are the victim or if you were affected by the crime you cannot be forced to go.
Can I insist that police charge the offender?
No. A victim or a witness to a crime cannot insist on charges being laid nor on charges being dropped.
How long do the police have to contact me about an offence, is there a time limit?
For most criminal offences a prosecutor can contact you at any time after the offence, even many years later. But there are exceptions and you should get legal advice if this happens.
How long do the police have between investigating and laying charges?
There is no way to predict how long police will need to investigate. You have every right to be kept informed about how the police investigation is going, so keep in touch with police.
Can I drop my complaint if I made the complaint?
Yes, usually, but the police will need you to sign a withdrawal form. If the crime was serious though, the police may still go ahead even without your complaint if they have enough evidence to take the offender to court.
Can I stop the offender contacting me?
If the offender gets bail, their bail will have conditions limiting them from having contact with you if you are a victim or witness. If the offender threatens you, or gets friends to threaten you, call police straight away, because the police can arrest the offender for breaching bail conditions.