Q585: How long do I have to report an incident to the police?

It depends on what type of incident you are reporting. This area of law is very complex so the following is a basic guide only (as there are exceptions).

Road Traffic Incidents -

  • Reportable road traffic collisions (see questions in related information for more details) have to be reported as soon as practicable or within 24 hours in any case. Some forces may not take a report of a road traffic collision after a specified amount of time.
  • Minor road traffic incidents have to be prosecuted so therefore reported within 6 months (e.g. failing to wear a seatbelt)
  • For serious road traffic incidents, there is no time limit when these can be reported/prosecuted (dangerous driving).
  • Please note that a collision only needs to be reported if it is a reportable road accident.
Crime -

Most crimes do not have a time limit on for reporting them. The crimes that do have time limits are summary only which means that they can only be tried at a Sheriff Court so are relatively minor offences, they must be prosecuted within 6 months (e.g. common assault, harassment and take without owners consent).

Do bear in mind that the longer the period between the incident happening and reporting the matter to the police the harder it will be for the police to gather the evidence.

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