Suppose Bob assaults Alice by punching and kicking her, as well as surrounding her with a bunch of colleagues with her back against a wall because she voiced political viewpoints which Bob and his associates find objectionable while they were trying to stage a demonstration.

Alice caught numerous of their strikes and blows on camera, even while they often tried to grab her phone out of her hand and demanded that she stop filming them (on public property).

Alice was so flustered on the day that she didn't have energy to go to the police but is now left with regrets.

How long does she have to file a proper police report of the assault?

  • First of all, the nature of the evidence doesn't really matter deadlines aren't different with video evidence than in cases based upon sworn testimony (there may be a DNA evidence exception). Second of all, the deadline called a statute of limitations, typically applies to the deadline for prosecutors to file criminal charges (if there is a deadline) and not to a deadline to filing a report with police.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 21:49
  • Yes but is there some period of time after which police will regard an incident as stale and then subsequently not take reports of it very seriously or assume that it will not be worthwhile to investigate or assume that as the incident is over they would be awakening a sleeping dog that should be let to lie, or assume that there must be a more nefarious ulterior motive less innocent than genuinely feeling threatened in the heat of the moment on the part of the victim hassling them with the filing of the report? Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 22:05
  • 1
    That isn't a legal question. That is a question of individualized police discretion.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 22:37
  • Hmm, idk. Of course i can see what you mean, but police are not only public bodies, but actually public bodies that work on probably especially deterministic/statutorily codified procedures even more than other public bodies. While you're obviously far more an expert on all of this than I, I feel as though it is really far from that cut and dry. Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 22:41
  • I mean we literally even have a tag on here of [police]. Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


6 months or unlimited

England and Wales has a limit on summary offences of 6 months. Common assault is usually a summary offence. Note that the limitation period is from the offence to the bringing of charges so, as a practical matter, the report needs to be made early enough to allow for investigation.

For indictable offences, there is no limit. However, the older the crime, the harder it is to get a conviction.

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