A police officer (called the police investigator) will be responsible for investigating the crime and you can ask them any questions you have.
Sometimes police will not be able to give you certain information if it might interfere with the investigation.
If you have any concerns about your safety during this time, let the police know.
Some police investigations can take a long time.
Keep any documents about an investigation in a safe place where you can find them.
You can contact police to get information about an investigation.
What happens during a police investigation?
The police will ask to take a statement from you about what happened. This is different to reporting the crime. If you feel that you need a support person with you when you are making your statement you should discuss this with the police beforehand.
Police will also:
- take statements from other witnesses
- collect evidence related to the crime.
You can choose how much you want to know about the investigation and let police know when you would like to be contacted. Some investigations can take quite some time, so there may be periods where you do not hear from the police, but that does not mean that nothing is happening. Learn more about how you can get information about the investigation.
Investigating family violence
Family violence is a crime. If you report family violence, it will be taken seriously by the police and courts. Police will investigate what happened. They will ask you questions and collect evidence where it is available.
After the investigation, the police will decide if there is enough evidence to lay charges against the person. While all of this is happening, the police will make sure you and your family are kept safe.
When family violence is reported, police always think about safety first.
The police will make sure you are safe by:
- helping you and your family leave safely, if you need to
- organising a safe place for you to stay if you need it
- staying at the house until you and your family are safe.
When working out the best way to keep you safe, the police think about:
- the level of fear experienced by you and your family
- the level and nature of the violence
- if the incident might get worse
- if children are there
- the presence of or access to firearms or other weapons
- if there has been threats of suicide or murder
- if the people involved need extra care, like for pregnancy or recent separation
- any history of family violence.
These things help police decide how to keep you and your family safe in the future.
The police may also decide to apply for an intervention order if your safety or property or is in danger.
In some cases, criminal charges may also be laid. Even if the police do not charge the person, there are still things they can do to help protect you and your family members such as refer you to appropriate support services.
They may also charge the person in the future, if more evidence becomes available.
Read more about family violence.
Investigating sexual offences
When you report a sexual assault to police, your health and safety come first.
If you go to a police station to report a sexual assault, a police officer will:
- take you to a safe and private interview room
- ask you questions and gather as much information as possible.
Everything you tell police is confidential. They will give you information to help you decide if you want to make a formal report or press charges.
If you are reporting a recent sexual assault, a police officer will take you to a crisis care unit where you will be given the option of having a medical examination. A medical examination provides important evidence that can be used to help prove the case in court.
If you decide that you do not want a medical examination, the police officer can arrange services for you such as counselling and other support. This can also be arranged when you report a sexual assault that occurred some time ago.
Read more about sexual assault.
Mandatory reporting – protecting children from harm
In Victoria, police and other professionals such as medical practitioners, nurses and teachers are legally required to report to child protection if they believe a child:
- has been or might be harmed because of physical or sexual abuse, and
- their parents or guardians have not protected them, are not able to protect them or are not likely to protect them.
This is called mandatory reporting.
All adults in the community have a responsibility to report child sexual abuse
Since 2014, there has been a law in Victoria called the failure to disclose offence. It means that you must report child sexual abuse if you:
- are an adult, and
- you come to a ‘reasonable belief’ that a sexual offence (sexual abuse) has been committed by an adult against a child under 16.
If this happens you must report your belief to the police, unless you have a reasonable excuse. If you do not, you may be charged with a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment.
You can learn more about the failure to disclose offence on the Department of Justice and Community’s website (External link).