Police pledge better investigations to drive down crime rates

The public can now access clear guidance on what they can expect from police when they report a crime such as burglary or car theft, the College of Policing said today.

The standards setting body published guidance for officers in England and Wales to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry when investigating an offence, in a move which will provide consistent service across the country and solve more crimes.

It says the public can expect that all material and potential evidence should be considered as part of an investigation when there is information to suggest the offender could be identified.

The new guidance sets the standards of investigation that officers must meet and is likely to lead to, on occasions, a more thorough investigation but, as the public would expect, officers will still have to consider the proportionality as forces seek to meet the needs of their communities.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, CEO at the College of Policing, said it is ‘critically important’ the public know police will consider all reasonable lines of enquiry. He added there is already work underway to improve investigations and this new guidance will bring greater consistency to the service the public receives. 

In practice this means:

  • Where there is clear recorded CCTV (or other) footage, police will recover that and seek to present it as evidence
  • When there is clear eyewitness evidence, that person will be interviewed
  • Where there is strong evidence and forensic opportunities, police will seek to present these
  • Where property is stolen with unique features ie serial number etc, police will seek to recover it and obtain evidence.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “It is critically important the public know that when a crime has happened the police will consider all reasonable lines of enquiry and, where appropriate, arrest the person responsible.

“Police officers want to give the best possible service to everyone but they are trying to do this in a time pressured and increasingly complex environment. Today’s guidance will support them to make effective decisions on what is a reasonable line of enquiry as they investigate crimes.

“It means all forces are working to the same standard as we come down hard on criminals and deliver what the public want from their police service.

“We know the public would not want us to spend significant amounts of time on an investigation where there is no a reasonable chance of identifying a suspect or making an arrest so our focus will be on where there is information we can act on.

“The service will have to be pragmatic which means vast public resources cannot be dedicated to every crime. Officers will consider whether they can realistically identify the person responsible or if their time should be spent on preventing other crimes from happening.
“Our aim is to deliver the best possible service to the public to keep them safe and protect them from criminals.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Investigations Chief Constable Scott Chilton said:

“Police have a duty to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry in every investigation. Every force conducts thousands of successful investigations every year, ensuring that offenders are prosecuted, and victims get the justice they deserve.

“We welcome the introduction of this new guidance, which will improve standards and deliver even more consistency across forces. This will ensure that the great work that officers do is able to further develop, modernise, and respond to the complexities of modern-day crime.

“It is for individual chief constables to manage demand within their force and prioritise their resources, drawing on the support of national standards and guidance. This new guidance will help chief constables to recognise how we can be better enabled to investigate crime.

“Along with the new guidance, we are delivering new and improved training, and ensuring that forces are alerted to examples of best practice from across the country. We are also working with HMICFRS to ensure that we are aligning with their standards.

“Crime has changed and got more complex in recent years, but we have also seen big changes in technology, such as video doorbells and dashcams, that can greatly assist an investigation.

“It is important to remember that each and every case is different and has different complexities, however, officers will use these new technologies when appropriate to gather evidence to build a case for prosecution. There are opportunities to identify offenders that we never had before, and that is something to be very positive about.”

Contact Information

Jason Lavan

Media Relations Manager

College of Policing


Notes to editors

The guidance is attached and is also under embargo until 00:01 on Monday, 28 August 2023.

You can contact the College of Policing press office out of hours on 07827 309 361.