How long does it take for a police investigation UK?

How long does it take for a police investigation UK

How long does it take for a police investigation UK? In the UK, the duration of a police investigation can vary significantly based on the complexity of the case and the nature of the crime. Generally, there are three main phases in a police investigation: initial investigation, suspect evaluation, and charging.

Initial Investigation: This phase starts when a crime is reported. Police gather evidence, attend the crime scene, and interview witnesses. If sufficient information is collected, they may arrest a suspect.

Suspect Evaluation

Here, the police assess all gathered evidence to determine if there’s a case against the suspect. If so, they prepare a file for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).


The final phase involves charging the suspect with a crime, usually after the CPS reviews the case. The case then proceeds to court, either for sentencing if the suspect pleads guilty or for trial if they plead not guilty.

Reasons for Lengthy Investigations: Investigations can be prolonged for several reasons. Gathering sufficient evidence to charge a suspect can be time-consuming. Additionally, the CPS may request further investigations before deciding on charges.

Rights During Investigation: If under investigation, individuals have certain rights, including remaining silent, speaking to a solicitor, receiving medical assistance, contacting someone about their whereabouts, and having an interpreter if needed.

Time Limits for Investigations: There’s no specific time limit for police investigations in the UK. However, if arrested, the police must charge or release the individual within 24 hours. For summary crimes, the police must charge within six months of the crime. There’s no time limit for indictable crimes like murder or rape.

Evidence Requirements: To charge someone, the police need ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect a person’s guilt. The CPS requires sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

Phone Examination: The time taken to examine a phone varies based on its complexity and the amount of data. Simple phones can be examined quickly, while smartphones with extensive data and security measures can take much longer.

Text Messages and Drug Cases: Text messages mentioning drugs can be used as evidence in drug-related cases or investigations.

Charging Without Victim’s Consent: The police can press charges even without the victim’s consent if it’s in the public interest.

CPS Decision Time: The CPS generally takes about 6 weeks to make a decision, but this can vary based on the case’s complexity.

For anyone involved in or anticipating a police investigation, understanding these aspects is crucial. Legal advice and representation are recommended to navigate the process effectively.