This is a vital skill for police officers and security guards to master. It is a detailed account of the facts of an incident that has occurred in your presence.
No personal opinions should be involved, it must be a dispassionate collection of the facts of the matter.
Different departments will have different ways in which they file reports. This may be handwritten or they may need to be typed up to be filed electronically.
If you are filing the report by hand, you should not use cursive or any other hard-to-read handwriting style. In this instance, you should print the information on the page.
Time is of the Essence
The sooner you start your report, the fresher the incident will be in your mind. We advise taking some notes in the immediate aftermath of the incident, to ensure you do not forget any important information.
You should never leave more than 24 hours between the incident occurring and beginning to write up your report.
Facts, Facts, Facts
The most important facts to include are the location, time, and date of the incident. These should not be a general area, try and be as specific as possible. If you can remember the exact time and address, this is ideal.
You should also include your name and police ID number. This will allow you to be connected to the incident and also provides a contact if anyone requires further information. For the same reason, you should include names and if possible, ID numbers, for other officers present at the incident.
You will also need to describe the type of incident it was. Why were you drawn to the scene?
If you were responding to a call, detail this and the time frame in which you received it. Do not draw in personal judgment, instead simply state the facts of the matter in as much detail as possible.
Write in the first person, describing the incident from your perspective. This should be as detailed as possible, and you should attempt to tell the story in chronological order.
You will need to explain the who, what, why, when, where, and how of the scenario.
Details are Key
You should try to include as many details as possible in your report. Where possible, try to incorporate direct quotes from individuals involved in the scenario. Your report should not be able to be misinterpreted by anyone reading it.
It does not matter if the account is long and wordy, this is preferable to a brief overview.
You will need to include a detailed description of your role in the incident. This includes any physical force you were required to use. You should not only document how you handled the situation at its most dramatic, but also how you dealt with the aftermath.
You should not report on anything you did not personally witness as if you did. If you are told something by a witness, this is known as hearsay. This is not backed up by personal knowledge but should be reported and documented as hearsay.
The way you write this will depend on your department’s protocol regarding witness and evidence reporting.
If it is hard to verbalize what you are trying to say, you can include drawings and diagrams to show your point. These can also be useful to describe the appearance of the scene of the incident. This is especially useful in regard to road traffic collisions.
Even if the information gathered does not seem relevant, it is still wise to include it all. This is because seemingly inconsequential things may later appear as a critical piece of evidence. The more you report, the more useful your report will be.
Your report should be clear and concise. Do not worry about using elaborate language. It is much more important that anyone who reads it can understand, and it will not be misconstrued.
Try to write out abbreviations in full, and avoid using police code where possible. You should also include the full names of all parties involved.
The most important aspect of the report is that you are honest. Even if you do not feel as though you handled the situation to your best ability, still report it accurately.
It is vital to proofread your report and check that it is accurate and factually correct. Pay particular attention to addresses, dates, times, etc.
Make sure that there are no gaps in your reporting. Take care to check your use of spelling and grammar throughout. If there are any sentences included that seem subjective, it is wise to remove these now.
You should find out the name and department of the individual that you need to submit your report to. We would advise submitting it in person where possible.
This gives the investigating officer the chance to ask you any questions they may have. If you submit it electronically, we recommend calling them within 10 days of submission. This will allow you to check it was received and allows you to answer follow-up questions.
If any new evidence or information concerning your case arises, add an addendum section to your original report. This will ensure that you have an audit trail of the investigation procedure and shows your working process.
You should always retain a copy of any incidence report that you create. This will allow you to refer back to it in the future and ensures that you will not run the risk of losing all of your work.
The most important aspects of a good police report are organization and clarity. Your report should tell the person reading it the complete story, in a dispassionate manner. It should include as many details as possible, even ones that may seem irrelevant.
Ensure you are around to answer any follow-up questions that your report invites. This shows a good work ethic and dedication to completing your job to high quality.
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