Questions and Answers

What happens when I report a crime?
What does ‘pulse number’ mean?
How will I know about services for crime victims?
Who investigates a crime?
What are the steps in investigating a crime? How long will it take?
Is there a time limit for reporting a crime?
What does it mean that the file is being prepared?
How long does it take to prepare a file?
What are ‘forensics’?
Who examines CCTV footage?
If I am injured who takes photographs of my injuries?
What is an identity parade?
What is the best way to contact the investigating Garda?
What hours do Gardaí work?
When should I make my statement?
What should I say in my statement?
Can I add to my statement if I forget something?
Can I get a copy of my statement?
Who can see my statement?
Can I see the other witness statements?
Why is the person who assaulted me not arrested?
Can I report a crime anonymously?
Who should I approach if I have any queries about the investigation?
What hours do Garda Superintendents work?
What does it mean if someone is cautioned?
If I am not satisfied with the Garda investigation what can I do?

What happens when I report a crime?
The Garda will ask you to make a statement which s/he will write down and get you to sign. The matter will then be investigated by the Garda. You should receive a letter from the Garda Victim Service Office  giving you the name of the investigating Garda, the PULSE (computer) number of the crime, the telephone number of the Garda Station, and the number of Crime Victims Helpline.

What does ‘pulse number’ mean?
The PULSE number is the computer generated number allocated to the crime/incident in the Garda computer system. This number enables Gardaí to access information on the current status of the case and the progress of the investigation.

How will I know about services for crime victims?
The Garda charter and the EU Crime Victims Rights Directive says that the Garda must tell you about services for victims of crime. You should receive a letter from the Garda Superintendent’s office with contact details for the investigating Garda, and the Crime Victims Helpline. With the letter you should also receive a “Victim Information Leaflet” which outlines your rights as a victims as well as providing additional information that you may find useful.

The Crime Victims Helpline can tell you about services in your local area for crime victims, and about specialist services for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and for families affected by homicide.

Who investigates a crime?
The Garda to whom you make the initial report normally investigates that crime.
In the case of homicide and some other very serious crimes a nominated Family Liaison Garda is appointed to liaise with family members and to keep them informed on all matters relating to the investigation of the crime.

What are the steps in investigating a crime? How long will it take?
Every investigation process is different, and takes varying amounts of time depending on the seriousness and complexity of the crime. Witnesses have to be interviewed and statements have to be taken from them. CCTV (if there is footage) has to be examined. Fingerprints may have to be taken and sent for examination. Other forensic tests may have to be carried out. There may be unavoidable delays in completing any of these processes.

Is there a time limit for reporting a crime?
It is advisable to report all crime as soon as possible. For crimes that are considered ‘less serious’ the time limit for reporting is six months. For more serious crimes such as homicide, rape or child sexual abuse there is no set time limit.

What does it mean that the file is being prepared?
The investigating Garda takes statements from the victims, the witnesses, and the accused. S/he also assembles all evidence such as fingerprint evidence, photographs of injuries, medical reports, forensic testing results and reports, CCTV footage analysis and any other relevant information. This is known as the file. When completed the file is passed on to the Garda Superintendent, and/or to the DPP for a decision on the appropriate charges. Of course a decision may be made not to go ahead with the case. This is usually because there is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction in the court, and does not mean that the victim’s story is not believed.

How long does it take to prepare a file?
It is impossible to be specific about how long it takes to prepare a file. Some cases are very complex, and may take a year or more. In other cases you can expect that the process will take up to 6 months, but it really depends on many factors which are often outside the control of the investigating Garda.

What are ‘forensics’?
‘Forensics’ refers to the various scientific tests carried out after a crime has been committed. Obviously these tests depend on the nature of the crime and the availability of material suitable for examination. The most usual tests are carried out on blood, semen, hair, teeth, fingerprints, and also on mobile phones and CCTV footage. A great number of these tests are done by the Forensic Laboratory in the Phoenix Park. Some tests are carried out in other countries as we in Ireland do not always have the necessary technology.

Who examines CCTV footage?
This is a camera placed in a strategic part of a premises or street that picks up images of activities on the premises/street. Again as technology has improved, many crimes are solved as a result of CCTV evidence. The CCTV footage is examined by the Gardaí.

If I am injured who takes photographs of my injuries?
Photographs can be taken by anyone, but if they are to be used in court that person may be called to give evidence in the court. You should give copies of any photos to the investigating Garda for inclusion in the file. Photographs may also be taken at a Garda Station by a Garda.

What is an identity parade?
It is a means of identifying someone who has committed a crime. If you are asked to attend an identity parade you will be asked to pick out the suspect from a group of people of similar appearance. You could also be asked to pick out a suspect from a selected group of photographs.

What is the best way to contact the investigating Garda?
First you need to find out what time the Garda will be on duty, and then you need to phone the Garda station during those hours. If you are not able to contact the investigating Garda, you may ring the Garda Victim Service Office for assistance.

What hours do Gardai work?
In cities uniformed Gardai are usually available 24 hours a day. Detectives work different hours. In country areas different times apply.

When should I make my statement?
The investigating Garda will ask you to make a statement as soon as is practicable after the incident. This is generally within a few days or a week of the incident.

What should I say in my statement?
You should give a truthful account of what has happened, and you should give as much information as you can to the Garda who is taking your statement. It may be useful to write out an account of what happened as soon as possible after the incident while it is completely fresh in your memory. You should tell of any injuries suffered in the incident or as a result of the crime. You should also mention any intimidation against you or any member of your family. If photographs of your injuries have been taken you should inform the Garda of this.

Can I add to my statement if I forget something?
Yes, you should contact the investigating Garda as soon as possible and ask to make a further statement.

Can I get a copy of my statement?
Yes, you may request a copy of your statement from the investigating Garda or the Garda Superintendent.

Who can see my statement?
Your statement can be seen by you, by the prosecution team, by the accused person, and by the solicitors for the accused person.

Can I see the other witness statements?
No, you are entitled to see only your own statement.

Why is the person who assaulted me not arrested?
The investigating Garda will decide the most appropriate time for an arrest to be made. The Gardaí need to first build the case and gather evidence and witness statements which will be put to the person who is arrested, so even though you know who assaulted you it is unlikely that s/he will be arrested until the investigation has been completed. It is very difficult for someone who is a victim of a serious assault to see the assailant appearing to carry on with normal life, but this person is presumed innocent until found guilty and convicted in court.

Can I report a crime anonymously?
Yes, crimes are regularly reported anonymously to the Gardaí, especially by callers to the Garda Confidential line at 1800 666 111. However if you are the victim of a crime and you want to report it, you cannot do this anonymously.

Who should I approach if I have any queries about the investigation?
The first person to discuss any queries with is the investigating Garda. You can also speak to the sergeant in charge of the Garda unit. If you can’t reach the investigating Garda, you can ring the Garda Victim Service Office.

If you are not getting the answers you seek, you can ask for an appointment to meet with your local Garda Superintendent. This request can be made by telephone or in writing.

What hours do Garda Superintendents work?
They usually work 9.00 am to 17.00 pm, Monday to Friday.

What does it mean if someone is cautioned?
There are two types of ‘caution’, adult and juvenile.
In the case of an adult offender, the Garda Superintendent may decide that a caution is an appropriate way of dealing with the offender rather than bringing him/her to court. As a victim of crime your views will be considered by the Superintendent, but the decision to caution may be made even if you are opposed to it.

In the case of a juvenile offender (under 18) s/he must be considered for cautioning, before a case is brought before the courts. For a caution to be administered the young person must accept responsibility for the offence, must agree to be cautioned, and where appropriate must agree to any supervision terms. Again the views of the victim will be taken into consideration, but the decision to caution will be made by a Superintendent at the Garda Office for Children and Youth affairs.

When an offender is a juvenile, the Juvenile Liaison Officer may also consider inviting the victim of the crime to attend at the caution, and this is called a Restorative Caution.
Note: further information on cautioning is available on the Garda website, www.garda.ie. A leaflet entitled ‘Restorative Justice A Guide for Victims of Crime’ can be downloaded at that site.

If I am not satisfied with the Garda investigation what can I do?
There are a number of options. You can write to your local Superintendent or you can make an appointment to speak to him/her personally. You can contact the Garda Victim Liaison Office at Community Relations in Harcourt Square, Dublin 2.

Alternatively you could contact the Garda Ombudsman Complaints Commission and make a complaint there. Further information on the Garda Ombudsman click HERE or go to www.gardaombudsman.ie.