Domestic Violence

Should I report?


If you have been a victim of crime, it is strongly recommended that you report it to the police. Once reported, the likelihood of catching the person who committed the crime against you and stopping him/her from doing the same to others is much higher.

If you want to report a crime in confidence, without identifying yourself, it is possible to report crime anonymously. See WHERE CAN I REPORT? (below) for more information on how you can report crime.
You can also get support and advice on reporting crime from organisations such as Victim Support Scotland.



  • A crime can be reported by contacting the local police station and giving them information about what happened.
rapariga procura apoio/ajuda
  • If you want to report a crime anonymously (without being identified) or give information about a crime, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The call will never be traced and the person will not be required to give information in Court or give a full statement.
  • In some areas, if a racial or homophobic crime has taken place, it is possible to report the crime without going to a police station. This is called “Remote Reporting” or “Third Party Reporting”. This type of reporting allows you to report the crime to an organisation, who in turn will report it to the police. To find out which organisations in an area offers remote reporting facilities, you can contact local police force anonymously or have a look on the police force’s website.


Reporting a crime is free of charge.

In any of the places where you can report a crime you will have to provide some information about what happened, what you have seen or heard:
  • the time and date of the crime;
  • the location of the event;
  • the description of what happened;
  • the description of the people involved (offender, if possible; victims; witnesses).
The police will use this information to help them solve the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice.

The person identified as the perpetrator of the crime may be notified and informed about the report made against them.



After the crime is reported an INVESTIGATION stage starts, during which the police will seek to gather all available evidence. This might require gathering more information from any victims and witnesses.

  • Victims and witnesses of crime will normally be asked to give the police a STATEMENT. This involves telling the police officer everything that happened or everything that was seen. This is important as it forms part of the evidence the police are collecting and helps them to decide whether a crime has been committed. The statement is a legal document, and may also be used during later stages of the investigation and prosecution (put an accused on trial) of the crime. For example, it may be used by the Crown Office and Procurators Fiscal Service (COPFS), (see information about this figures on about going to court) who can use it to decide whether it is likely the accused will be found guilty (convicted) of the crime. The statement can also be used as evidence in Court. For these reasons, it is important to make a statement only when you are ready and clear about what you want to say. After giving the statement, the police usually read it back to make sure it matches what the victim has said. If the victim agrees with the statement, they then have to sign it. Once this is done, the victim is given a crime reference number, which they can use later to get information from the police about the same case. 
  • If the crime is of a sensitive nature, such as a sexual crime, the victim can ask to be interviewed by an officer of the same sex. For example, if a female victim can ask to speak to a female police officer.

After a victim or witness has been interviewed (that is, the police have taken the statement) they may not to hear from the police again for some time. If the victim or witness wants to know how their case is progressing, they can do so by contacting the police, quoting the crime reference number the police gave, which helps the police find the information more easily.

If the police identify a person or people they think are responsible for the crime there are several things they can do. For example, they might decide to take no further action, give the offender a warning, order the offender to pay a fine, etc.


In Scotland there are different ways of dealing with an accused person, depending on their age:

If the accused person is a young person (under 16), and if there is enough evidence, they will usually be referred to the CHILDREN’S REPORTER who considers what action to take. 
  • The Children’s Reporter investigates the case to decide whether or not compulsory measures of intervention are needed to deal with the accused person. If compulsory intervention is required a Children’s Hearing will be held. A Children’s Hearing makes decisions on the issues and needs of the accused young person and how these issues can be addressed to prevent them offending again. 
  • Some cases may need to be considered by both the Children’s Reporter and the Procurator Fiscal together, to decide whether the case should be dealt with by a CHILDREN’S HEARING or by the formal criminal justice system. Usually, it is only the most serious crimes committed by young people that are dealt with by the formal criminal justice system and taken to Court.
  • In many cases the accused young person will be referred to the Children’s Reporter, who decides whether or not a Children’s Hearing is needed. A Children’s Hearing makes decisions on the issues and needs of the accused young person and how the issues can be addressed to prevent them offending again. 
  • Victims do not attend Children’s Hearings. 
The Children’s Hearings System deals with children and young people in Scotland under the age of eighteen who are in need of help. There are two main reasons why the Children’s Hearings System will help a child or young person:
  • Because they are in need of care and protection.
  • Because they have got into trouble with the police (e.g. they committed a crime).
You can learn more about this here.
For more information you can also search on: Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • Provides information about the Children’s Hearing.
  • Website: 

    If the accused person is an adult (over 16) and there is enough evidence, the police will report the crime to the Procurator Fiscal, who is responsible for the prosecution of crime in Scotland. 
  • They decide what should happen with each report received from the police. 
  • The Procurator Fiscal will review the case and, if there is enough evidence, they will put the accused on trial in Court.
  • The Procurator Fiscal may, however, decide there is not enough evidence, and take no further action (drop the case). 
  • In certain cases, the Procurator Fiscal may decide action is required, but that a trial is not appropriate. In these cases alternative actions can be taken: the offender may be given a warning, ordered to pay a fine, ordered to do unpaid work. 
  • If the Procurator Fiscal does decide put the accused on trial in Court, the victim may be interviewed by the Procurator Fiscal or the DEFENCE TEAM (the defence team is the team of people who represent and defend the accused person).  
  • Following this a date will be set for a TRIAL to take place. The trial takes place in a COURT. During the trial, the people present include: the accused, the Judge (known as a Sheriff in Scotland), the Procurator Fiscal (who presents the evidence against the accused and tries to prove that the accused is guilty of committing the crime), the Defence Lawyer (a lawyer who represents the accused and defends the accused in Court), as well as witnesses, which can include the victim. 
  • In the most serious cases, there will also be a JURY in the Court. The jury is a group of 15 men and women (jurors) who listen to the evidence and decide if the accused is guilty or not. 
The Criminal Justice System takes legal action on matters involving crimes committed by someone over 16. However if a person under 16 is suspected of committing a very serious crime (such as murder or serious assault) they may be dealt with by the criminal justice system.
The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is eight years old. Children under eight cannot be referred to the Reporter or the Procurator Fiscal for offending. 
You can read more about here.


There are SPECIAL MEASURES available for young people who have to give evidence in Court. Special measures are different ways to help you give your evidence. These can include: giving evidence from another room through a television link; giving evidence from behind a screen in the Courtroom; having a support person with you when you; etc.  Take a look here for more details.

After the trial the Judge or the Jury (depending on the case), takes a decision: either the person is convicted (found guilty) or acquitted (found not guilty, or not proven) of the crimes.

If the accused person is found guilty, the Judge will then decide on a suitable punishment for the offender. This might be a prison sentence (the Judge will decide on the length the offender must serve in prison). In other cases the offender may be given a community sentence (made to do unpaid work in the community) or they may be made to pay a fine or pay compensation (money) to the victim.



  • If the criminal case is taken to a Court with a Judge, you may be asked to attend and tell them everything you know. This is called giving your evidence.
  • Victims and witnesses do not attend Children’s Hearings. Sometimes the people making decisions at Children’s Hearings do not agree, or it might not be clear what happened. In these cases the case may need to go to a Court for another Hearing. If this happens, you might be asked to go to Court to tell them everything you know. This is called giving your evidence.
  • If you are to give evidence in Court, you will receive a letter (known as a citation). The letter will tell you the date, time and location you need to attend Court.
  • It is natural to feel very worried or afraid about going to Court. But there is lots of support available to help you through it. Victim Support Scotland have a Witness Service dedicated to giving help and support to people going to Court. They are part of Victim Support Scotland and are based in every Sheriff and High Court in Scotland. The Witness Service can answer general questions about what happens at Court and can also arrange a visit to the Court before the day of the trial, to get you familiar with the Courtroom setting so that you will know what to expect (See What support can I get? for more information). 


Regardless of what you decided to do, you always have the right to be supported. Even if you decide to not report the crime, it is very important to talk to someone about what happened, how you are feeling and the help and support available.
If you want to talk to someone before you make a decision to report, there are professionals and organisations who can inform, advise and support you. Search on how and where can I get support? for more information.