Q585: How long do I have to report an incident to the police?
It depends upon the 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 Accidents
- Reportable road traffic accidents (see questions in related information for more details) have to be reported as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case, within twenty-four hours.
- Minor road traffic incidents e.g. failing to wear a seatbelt, have a time limit on prosecution of 6 months.
- Serious road traffic incidents (e.g. dangerous driving) have no such time limit for prosecution.
- Most crimes do not have a time limit for reporting them.
- The crimes that do have time limits are 'summary only' which means that they can only be tried at a Magistrates Court and are relatively minor offences; they must be prosecuted within 6 months e.g. common assault, harassment and taken without owners consent (TWOC).