Coercive Measures

Starting an investigation

If you are a victim of or witness to a crime, you can report it to the police. Once the police have received your report, a decision will be made by either the police or the prosecutor on whether or not to initiate an investigation.

Apprehension and arrest – a typical start to an investigation

An investigation will typically begin something like this:

When a crime has been committed, the police will apprehend the suspect. The police will then pass the details of the case onto a prosecutor who will decide whether there are sufficient grounds to make an arrest. The suspect is then informed of the suspicion against him or her, i.e. what crime(s) he or she is being charged with. You can learn more about this on the page Coercive Measures.

Police or prosecutor?

Generally speaking, the police will be in charge of the investigation until a suspect has been identified. Once the police’s inquiries have reached the stage at which there are reasonable grounds for suspecting someone of having committed the offence, a prosecutor will then become responsible for the investigation, unless the offence is of a less serious nature, in which case a police officer will continue to lead the investigation.

A police officer will lead the investigation if:

  • the crime is considered less serious, such as shoplifting, traffic violations and petty theft.

A prosecutor will lead the investigation if:

  • the suspect is to be arrested or held on remand;
  • there is a suspicion that violence has been committed or a threat of violence has been made against a close relative;
  • the victim is under 18 years of age; or
  • the crime being investigated is of a serious or complex nature.

If the person held on remand is no longer suspected of the crime committed and he or she is released from custody, the police may then take over the investigation.

Gathering evidence

When an investigation is led by a prosecutor, the prosecutor decides on how and with which methods the police should gather evidence. The prosecutor may, for example, direct the police to hold interviews and conduct forensic investigations. Once the police have reported the results of the inquiries, the prosecutor may issue new directives to the police, decide to discontinue the investigation or to indict the suspect, in which case the record or notes of the investigation shall be disclosed to the suspect.


Under normal circumstances, the prosecutor will only direct the police regarding who they should interview in the case. The directive may also include any particularly important questions that the prosecutor feels the police should ask during the interviews. When children are to be interviewed, the prosecutor will instruct the police to make an audio-visual recording of the interview.

Technical evidence

It is common for the Swedish National Forensic Centre (NFC) or the National Board of Forensic Medicine (RMV) to be consulted on technical, chemical or biological issues of importance to the investigation. NFC analyses of firearms, drugs and DNA are a vital element of criminal investigation that often proves decisive to the results of a preliminary investigation.