Serious injuries on the road are investigated by the police and you can contact them to find out how an investigation is progressing.

A police investigation can take a long time. How long it takes will depend on your case, and the police can advise you.

Often, a crash has one or more causes that can be identified. Sometimes, but not always, one or more of these causes is a crime.

Sometimes, one or more causes are not due to a crime. It is not the main purpose of the police investigation to identify those other causes or call for any changes to be made to eliminate those causes.

If someone is injured, but there is no evidence a criminal offence has been committed, then it will not be possible for a criminal charge to be brought against anyone. Criminal charges require criminal evidence.


Evidence from people

People involved in the crash can be tested for alcohol and/or drugs, and have their eyesight checked. This includes testing injured drivers if permission is given by medical staff caring for them.

The police may seek other medical evidence. For example, types and severity of injuries can help indicate what happened in a crash.

People involved in the crash, or who witnessed the crash, or events leading up to or after the crash, may be asked to give a statement. They may also be asked to give the police their mobile phones. If there are not enough witnesses, police may issue an appeal for witnesses, through the media or through notices at the scene.

Any driver suspected of a crime at the crash scene will not normally be arrested unless certain conditions are met, but they will always be interviewed under caution. If they are arrested, they may later be released, while the police investigation is underway.


Giving a statement

The police may take statements from 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 were injured, you may be asked to give a statement. 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 communication needs, you may be entitled to assistance from an interpreter or intermediary (someone who helps communicate questions the police ask, and your answers).


Evidence from vehicles

Crash investigation officers, employed by the police or other agencies working in partnership with the police, may remove and examine vehicles to:

  • find out if they have mechanical defects
  • get more information about what happened, for example by studying vehicle damage or vehicle electronic data, to find out a vehicle’s speed and braking, or how long it was driven for.

Cameras attached to a vehicle that were pointing at the driver, or the road, may provide vital information. Cameras are also used by some cyclists.

If a lorry, bus or coach was involved, then a vehicle examiner with particular expertise in studying commercial vehicles should undertake the vehicle examination, including looking at brakes and other potential major faults, and any driving records (showing when a driver took breaks and how long for).


Evidence from the scene

Crash investigation officers can photograph, video and measure the crash location, at the time of the crash and sometimes later too.

They record things like vehicle positions in the crash, skid marks on the road, and damage to objects, such as bollards. They also analyse any available footage, for example from street cameras (CCTV).



If the crash involved someone driving for work, the police, or other agencies, may need to investigate their employer, to find out if there was any failure by the employer to ensure a vehicle was safe or driven safely.

They may need to interview people or seize paperwork.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may get involved in the investigation. HSE inspectors aim to identify any failure by an employer to ensure effective health and safety procedures were in place and followed. The investigation will usually be conducted jointly with the police. The police will be able to tell you if the HSE are involved. The HSE can take enforcement action against an employer. For more information about the HSE, go to

The police have set standards for how they should investigate a fatal or serious injury crash. These are contained in a police document called the Authorised Professional Practice (APP): Investigation of fatal and serious injury road crashes. You can access this document on the College of Policing website at or go to


Police reports

After a crash, police prepare a basic collision report that contains information about who was involved, where the crash happened, who witnessed the crash and the circumstances of the crash.

If a person has died in the crash, the investigating officer prepares a full report that contains additional information, for example witness statements and a post-mortem report. It can take the police a long time to gather all the evidence they need and prepare the full report. This will depend on your case and your police contact can advise you.

If the police investigation finds any evidence that suggests a crime may have been committed, this evidence is compiled into a prosecution report. This report is sent to a prosecution agency to decide if anyone should be charged with a crime.

You are not automatically entitled to see any of the police reports. You may be able to get a copy after any criminal proceedings have finished, or if there is no criminal prosecution.

If you wish to see a copy of the report or parts of it, you or your solicitor can ask the police. You may have to pay for it. If you are using a solicitor to make a claim for financial support, your solicitor may be able to reclaim the charge as part of the claim.

Before reading a police report you may want to ask what it contains.

Police reports often contains photographs taken at the time of the crash and sometimes detailed eyewitness interviews. It will be possible for the police, or a solicitor you are using, to remove anything you don't wish to see or read.

Once a police report has been sent to a prosecution agency, you can still keep talking to your police contact about your case to find out what is happening, for example whether criminal charges are being brought, and any court dates.

The police are required to meet certain standards for the disclosure of information after a road crash. These standards are written into Government documents which you can access at


Making a comment or complaint about the police

If your comments are about a police force in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, ask for a copy of their complaint procedure. You can also write to the force's chief constable.

If your comments are about Police Scotland, call 101 or go to and search for ‘make a complaint’. If you are not satisfied with the reply:


Making a victim statement

A victim statement is a written statement by you, about the effect of the crash on you and your family. These are called ‘Victim Personal Statements’ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and ‘Victim Statements’ in Scotland.

In your statement you can explain how the crash has affected your life and others’ lives, for example physically, emotionally and financially.

A victim statement cannot be used to express thoughts on who caused a crash or punishment they should be given.

A victim statement is an important document because it:

  • will be read by the prosecution agency when considering prosecution decisions
  • becomes part of the prosecution’s case papers and helps show the level of harm caused by an alleged offence. This is considered when sentencing someone, along with evidence and sentencing rules
  • can be used within a claim for financial support by you
  • can be taken into account if decisions are being made about an imprisoned offender’s parole (for example, their release date)
  • can help the public understand the effect of crashes and the importance of road safety, if it is read in court and reported in the media
  • will be seen by a person who committed a crime, but usually not before they have pleaded guilty or been found guilty.

If the police have not already offered the opportunity to make a victim statement, ask your police contact. If you think of something later, that you want to add, you can make another statement.

Help writing your victim statement

You can write your own statement or someone else can write down what you say. You may wish to seek help with your victim statement, to ensure you:

  • comply with the rules about what can be said in it
  • say everything you want to say, with accuracy
  • say everything that may be useful to be heard in various circumstances, for example prior to sentencing someone, when considering parole, or in a claim for financial support you are pursuing
  • express your thoughts in ways that reflect your views and values.

You may want to seek help from:

You may particularly want to seek help if you have challenges communicating, for example due to English not being your first language, or due to disability or illness.

For more information about making a victim statement:

  • In England and Wales, go to and search for ‘victim personal statement’
  • In Scotland, go to and search for ‘victim statement’
  • In Northern Ireland, go to and search for ‘victim personal statement’.