What Happens After You Report A Crime To The Police?

As an ex Police Constable, I thought I would give you a quick lowdown on what happens after you initially ring the police to report a crime.

There’s lots of variables here, and it depends on the individual circumstances and force policy, but in general, this is what happens when you report a crime to the police.

Below is a handy table of contents to help you navigate this page. Click on a title, and it will jump you directly to the relevant place on this page.

Reporting A Crime In Progress

When you first dial 999 to and ask for the police to report a crime in progress, you’ll first get routed to the regional communication centre that deals with the local area you are in.

Regional centres are dotted all around the United Kingdom, and are staffed operationally 24/7, 365 days a year by a mixture of police officers and dedicated civilian police staff (some police staff maybe sub contractors).

As soon as you begin talking to that operator, the operator will open a new ‘log’ (more on that later), and will type in all of the information you give them. They will also ask you additional questions to further enhance the information they input on the log.

That log is then immediately live on another operators screen. This operator has a police issued radio, and is in direct contact with response police officers in that area, and is able to read the log and direct and resource officers to crimes that are in progress.

This operator is reading, in real time, the information the other operator is inputting based on the information they are getting from the phone call.

report a crime

This operator will then grade the incident in accordance with a local grading system that give the police a clear and identifiable route to dealing with that reported incident.

These grades take into account the severity of the crime taking place, and also double up as a ‘response plan’, or how the police should deal with that particular incident.

For example, if you witness a burglary taking place, the operator at the communications centre will immediately grade it a ‘grade 1’.

Grade one means the highest attention. At the earliest available opportunity, the operator reading the log (in real time, based on what the other opertaor is typing in based on the phone call), will use a police radio to summon a police officer to the scene.

On the radio, the operator may say something like this:

‘Can any officer respond, grade 1, to a burglary in progress at 1 Joe Bloggs Road. Male on the phone says he’s seen two males breaking into a ground floor window and entering the premises’.

The response officers will then pick this up on their radios, and officers who are not engaged in a job will respond something like this:

‘Alpha Xray two four (or whatever their assigned callsign is), I’ll take that, making grade 1 (lights and sirens) to that location.’

For something like an ‘intruders on’ (police speak for intruders on premises crime in progress), other officers may get on the radio and say something similar to:

‘Alpha Xray Two five, I’ll back her up’.

This information is then added to the log, in a sequential line of events.

Once the police officers are at the scene of the crime, they will update the operator of what is happening, and they will update the log accordingly.

The log can be closed and archived at the conclusion of the incident – for example, arrests made, etc.

Police Logs

Police logs are a really important tool.

Many years ago, these logs were all paper based, and kept in files and stored for years on end.

Thankfully now, all police logs are done an a computer.

police call centre uk

Logs are a coherent timeline of what has happened from an initial phone call to the police. It records all information about the type of crime, the police officers who deal with it, and the conclusion of the incident.

These logs can be used in court if requested, but other than that logs are archived and can be used for intelligence purposes.

Reporting A Crime Not In Progress

Imagine waking up and finding your garage has been broken into and items have been stolen.

You will naturally ring the police to report the crime.

Similar to reporting a crime in progress, the operator will open a new log and take all details of the crime.

Sometimes, a police officer will follow up with a visit, a phone call, and sometimes a scenes of crime officer will attend and take photos and dust for fingerprints.

This log always have a log number.

A log number is important for insurance purposes – an insurance company will always ask for a police log number when you put in an insurance claim.

Further Reading

Reduce the risk of you needing to call the police by target hardening your home and risk to crime by reading the following articles.

75 Ways To Improve Home Security
25 Ways To Improve The Security Of Your Garage
Keeping Your Home Safe Whilst Away On Holiday

Questions And Comments

If you have any questions about this article, please use the form below.

As always, I welcome comments and questions on all articles, and look forward to reading them.

Stay Safe. Stay Secure.


My name is Richard.

I'm 40 years old. And I have nearly 20 years experience in various safety and security industries.

I'm here for you, sharing all my knowledge and experience to help you create a safe and secure home for you and your family.

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2 thoughts on “What Happens After You Report A Crime To The Police?”

  1. Thank you for such a helpful post.
    I have a question: Are the police obliged to let you know what Grading the call handler placed an incident in please?
    Thank you

    • While they are not obliged to let you know the grading, they should let you know a timescale at the very least. I.e ‘We’ll get somebody there immediately’ or ‘an officer will call you today’.


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