What is the role of the criminal police?
The criminal police are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. The criminal police are the authority which conducts the investigations. If, for instance, the public prosecutor issues a search warrant upon authorisation of a court, criminal police officers will actually present themselves at the premises and search for hints or objects.
The criminal police must conduct investigations objectively and impartially and avoid any appearance of bias. In doing so, they must respect the principles of proportionality and legality.
Like the court and the public prosecutor, the criminal police are held to ascertain the truth and to investigate all facts which are relevant to assess a criminal act. In their work, the criminal police must duly heed the rights and interests of crime victims and instruct all victims about their principal rights in the proceedings and about how they can obtain financial compensation or assistance.
Can the criminal police decide themselves which measure to take?
As a general rule, the criminal police are bound to conduct those investigations which have been ordered by the public prosecutor and/or the court. However, they are empowered to take some measures without prior instruction by the public prosecutor, particularly if time is of the essence or if it is impossible to obtain consent from the public prosecutor and/or the court. The criminal police may, for instance, arrest an offender caught in the act, in order to question him/her about the criminal act and search him/her for evidence.
How is information exchanged between the public prosecutor and the criminal police?
The criminal police must regularly inform the public prosecutor on the state of investigations and findings, and submit reports. If the criminal police believe that the investigations have been completed and that the facts and the suspicion have been sufficiently corroborated for the public prosecutor to decide on whether to institute criminal proceedings, to dismiss or to drop the case, they will submit a final report to the public prosecutor.