Police investigations

This section includes some information about what happens during a police investigation.

The police investigation

A death on the road is investigated by the police. The police have a duty to try to find out what happened by gathering evidence. A police investigation can take several months.

Giving a statement

The police may take statements from a number of different people. If you were involved in the crash, you saw the crash, or you saw vehicles before or after the crash, you may be asked to give a statement. If you were not involved in the crash, but knew the movements of a loved one on the day they died, you may be asked to give a statement too. If you give a statement the police will write down and may record what you say.

If you have made a statement, a lawyer, or more than one lawyer, may want to interview you too. This is an essential part of the investigation and helps lawyers understand the evidence you are providing. Your contact details remain confidential - they cannot be given to someone accused of a crime.

It may be possible for a relative or friend to attend an interview with you to offer support. If you want to be accompanied ask if this is possible. If you have particular communication needs you may also be entitled to assistance from an interpreter or intermediary (someone who helps communicate to you questions the police ask, and communicate back your answers).

If you give a statement, you may or may not be required, at a later date, to give evidence in court. Support is available to help you do this.

Physical evidence

Crash investigation officers, who are usually specially trained police officers, or employees of other specialist agencies, investigate a crash in order to identify the cause and obtain evidence. These experts may photograph, measure and video the scene of a crash and examine vehicles involved. They may examine belongings of people in the crash, such as mobile phones.

Medical evidence

Medical evidence may be provided by personnel who tended to a loved one at the crash or in hospital and by the pathologist who did the post-mortem examination. Medical evidence can include alcohol and drug tests on drivers involved.

The police report

If the police investigation finds any evidence that suggests a crime may have been committed, this is compiled into a report and police will consider whether to bring charges against someone. The officer in charge of the investigation will provide you with information about their findings. They can also explain why police have or haven’t decided to charge someone.

If you believe police haven’t followed proper procedure, or handled a decision fairly, you can make a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority.

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