The first Garda you speak to will take down your information (such as name, address, date of birth and phone number) and the basic details of what happened.
A few days later the Gardaí will arrange for you to make a formal written statement. It will be necessary for you to explain, in detail, the crime that took place. The Garda will write down your account and then read it back to you. Once you are happy that the statement accurately reflects your complaint, you will be asked to sign it. You have a right to receive a copy of your statement.
The Garda will then explain the investigation process to you and provide you with the name, telephone number and station of the investigating Garda. When the investigation is complete the case is referred to the Garda Superintendent or to the DPP for a decision on prosecution.
For less serious crimes such as public order offences, some traffic offences and minor assaults, the case is prosecuted by the Gardaí in the District Court. For more serious crimes the file is referred to the DPP who decides where and whether to prosecute or not. In these cases the prosecution is carried out by the office of the DPP, usually in the Circuit or Central Criminal Court.
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.
The Victims 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 a Garda Victim Service 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 victim as well as providing additional information that you may find useful.
For some crimes, such as those related to domestic violence or sexual assault, you may not receive a letter and will instead be provided the information in person from a Garda.
The Crime Victims Helpline can tell you about services in your local area and about specialist services for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, families affected by homicide, and others.
The Garda to who the report is initially made usually investigates the crime. Some crimes such as those committed against children or crimes that are related to sexual or domestic violence may be investigated by a specialist Garda Unit.
Every investigation process is different and takes varying amounts of time depending on the seriousness and complexity of the crime. An investigation can include:
It is advisable to report all crime as soon as possible.
For crimes that are considered ‘less serious’ (summary offences) the Gardaí have only six months from the date of the crime to commence proceedings in court. This means that the crime must be reported, investigated, and charges filed within a six-month timeframe.
For more serious crimes (indictable offenses) such as homicide, rape or child sexual abuse there is no set time limit.
Only the Gardaí can advise you whether a crime is a summary or indictable offense.
The investigating Garda takes statements from victims, witnesses, and the accused. They will assemble all evidence such as fingerprints, 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 to the Garda Superintendent and/or to the DPP for a decision on the appropriate charges. A decision may be made not to go ahead with the case. This is usually because the Superintendent or the DPP does not think there is enough evidence to secure a conviction in court. It does not mean that the victim’s story is not believed.
It is difficult 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 less complex cases, the process can take weeks or months.
‘Forensics’ refers to the various scientific tests carried out after a crime has been committed. 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, and fingerprints. It can also include the examination of mobile phones, computers and other digital devices. Many of these tests are done by the Forensic Laboratory in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Some tests are carried out in other countries as Ireland does not always have the necessary technology.
CCTV is a camera that records the activities of a premises or street. CCTV footage is examined by the Gardaí.
Photographs can be taken by anyone, but if they are to be used in court that person may be called to give evidence (testify) in 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.
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.
You can contact the investigating Garda by ringing the station. If provided with an email address, you can also email them.
If you are not able to contact the investigating Garda, you can contact the Garda Victim Service Office (GVSO) for assistance. A list of GVSOs and their contact information can be found here.
The investigating Garda will ask you to make a written statement. This is generally within a few days or a week of the incident.
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 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.
Yes, you should contact the investigating Garda as soon as possible and ask to make a further statement.
Once you make and sign a written statement, you can’t have it removed from the case file. However, you can make and sign an additional statement “withdrawing” the previous one.
If you are the victim of a crime, you do not have to provide a written statement. However, it is highly unlikely the case will be investigated and prosecuted if you don’t provide one.
Yes, victims have a right to receive a copy of any statement made to the Gardaí. Copies of statements can be requested from the investigating Garda or the Garda Victim Service Office (GVSO). A list of GVSOs and their contact information can be found here.
During the investigation, your statement can only be seen by you, the Gardaí and the DPP. Once someone is charged with the crime, it can be seen by you, by the prosecution team, by the accused person, and by the solicitors for the accused person.
No, you are entitled to see only your own statement.
The investigating Garda will decide the most appropriate time for an arrest to be made. The Gardaí need to first build a case and gather evidence and witness statements which will be put to the person who is arrested. Even if you know who assaulted you, it is unlikely that they will be arrested until the investigation has been completed.
Crimes can be reported in confidence by calling the Garda Confidential line at 1800 666 111. However, this is not entirely anonymous as your phone number may be visible.
If you are the victim and you want the crime to be investigated, you can’t remain anonymous.
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.
They usually work 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
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 them 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) they 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. 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.
There are a few options. You can speak to a Sergeant. You can write to the Superintendent and/or make an appointment to speak to them personally.
You can also contact the Garda Ombudsman and make a complaint.
If you are in immediate danger or there is an emergency, you should dial the Garda emergency number at 999 or 112.LEARN MORE
The first Garda you speak to will take down your information (such as name, address, date of birth and phone number) and the basic details of what happened.LEARN MORE
When an investigation is completed, a decision is made whether to prosecute someone for the crime. The decision to prosecute is sometimes called “file charges”.LEARN MORE
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decides whether or not to charge people for committing serious crimes and what the charges should be. The DPP is also responsible for prosecuting indictable offenses.LEARN MORE
When the Gardaí or the DPP decide to prosecute, the case then goes to court. Most of the time, the investigating Garda will be the person who informs you about court dates and other developments.LEARN MORE
When someone pleads guilty or is found guilty in court, all victims have a right to submit a victim impact statement (sometimes called a “personal statement”) before the judge decides on a sentence. Providing a victim impact statement is a right but not a requirement.LEARN MORE
When someone is convicted of a crime, they are sometimes sentenced to spend time in custody. Adults are placed in prison or the Central Mental Hospital. Juveniles are placed at the Oberstown Children Detention Campus.LEARN MORE
Is a term to describe a variety of practices that seek to provide opportunities for perpetrators to repair the harm they have done. The process generally requires the person to admit responsibility for the crime.
We can tell you about support services available in your local area for victims of crime. We can also tell you about specialist services for victims of particular crimes, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and homicide.
If you or a friend or family member has been impacted by crime, there are a number of organization in Ireland who can help.