Justice Process - Investigation
The purpose of the police investigation is to gather evidence to determine if a crime has been committed and if so, the identity of the person or people who are responsible. The police have a responsibility to get as much information about the offence as possible.
The police investigation following the report of a crime will follow specific procedures that are set out by the police force involved.
Procedures of an investigation
- Investigator will interview the complainant (the person reporting the crime) and all other persons who may have knowledge about the incident
- Investigator will interview the person accused of committing the crime where possible
- Investigator will try to gather as much evidence as possible from the scene of the crime
- Investigators should be made aware of any items or documents that might be of help to the police investigation as soon as possible.
What happens for crimes like a sexual assault or domestic violence?
After reporting to police, the complainant/victim of a crime such as a sexual assault or domestic violence may be:
- Interviewed by a specially trained investigator
- In some provinces/territories, the complainant can request to be interviewed by an officer of a particular gender. This will be arranged where possible.
- With the consent of the victim, the interview will take place at the police station or police facility and videotaped.
The victim of domestic violence or a sexual assault, also becomes a part of the crime scene. Ideally, the police will be able to obtain evidence from the victim. This can be done with the help of doctors and nurses at a hospital emergency department or a Sexual Assault Care Centre. Evidence gathered at the hospital may include:
- Obtaining and documenting the event history from the victim
- Making notes about any injuries
- Taking photographs of injuries
- Collecting physical and medical evidence such as the clothing fibers, hairs or body fluids.
If you are reporting a sexual or domestic assault, a Victim Services agency in your area can help you. The Justice Canada Victim Services Directory has links to many support services across Canada. You can click on this link to find help in your community.
In Ontario, there are specialised hospital programs to support victims/survivors of a sexual assault or domestic violence. The centres are available 24/7. You can click on this link to find a centre near you.
When a crime involves a child, the police must report this to an agency that is responsible for protecting children, such as the Children's Aid Society (CAS). A worker from the CAS may be present when a child is interviewed.