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Copy of Incident & Police Report Writing

things to note when writing an incident report

Holland Jones

on 12 February 2015

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Transcript of Copy of Incident & Police Report Writing

& Police

WHat is an incident report?
An official written or spoken description of a situation or event, meant to give people the information they need.
Common Problems with Incident/Police Reports
Confusing to someone who wasn’t there (report doesn’t paint a clear picture)
Thoughts not presented in an organized manner
Not enough detail (who, what, when, where, why, and how)
Not clear and concise
Poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Incorrect word usage
Use of terms, abbreviations, and acronyms that readers may not be familiar with
Inconsistency in style throughout the report
Characteristics of a Good Report
• Accurate and specific
• Factual
• Objective
• Clear
• Complete
• Concise
• Well-organized
• Grammatically correct
Well-written reports are also factual. There’s a difference, by the way, between accurate and factual. A fact is something real that can be either proved or disproved.

An inference is a conclusion based on reasoning. It becomes sound or believable if supported by facts.

We suspected that he was driving under the influence because we could smell alcohol on his breath and because his speech was slurred.

Blood tests confirmed he had a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit.

An opinion is a belief. It may or may not be appropriate to include opinions in your report. However, if you do include them, you should clearly identify them as such.

The driver had a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit.

The patient is an alcoholic.
Being accurate means being specific. Vague reference do not give readers much information.

The patient had a high fever.

The patient had a fever of 40˚C.
Objective reports are fair and impartial, not influenced by emotion or opinion. One key to being objective is to avoid words whose connotations change the tone of the report.

Sometimes, you may be required to give your opinion and suggestions for example, what might have caused the accident and ways to improve the infrastructure at the accident site. In this case, you may convey your views in an objective manner.

The man attacked an old beggar lady.

The man attacked an elderly homeless woman.

An objective report includes both sides of the story and does not favour one side or another.
Sample B: Several witnesses reported hearing the couple arguing about money. Mr. Ismail allegedly hit his wife in the face during the argument. We found Mrs. Ismail with a bloody nose and a swollen cheek.
Sample C: Numerous witnesses reported that the couple had been fighting because Mr. Ismail could not hold down a job. Mr. Ismail slugged his wife in the face because he was furious that she brought up the subject. We found Mrs. Ismail with severe injuries to the face, including a bloody nose and a badly swollen cheek.
Sample A: Several witnesses reported that the couple had been arguing because Mrs. Ismail kept nagging her husband about being laid off. Mrs. Ismail became so hostile that her husband momentarily lost control and slapped her in the face. Mrs. Ismail claimed to have been badly beaten, but she had only a little bit of blood beneath her nose and a slightly red cheek.
A well-written report is complete. It covers the who, what, where, when, why, and how. It does not leave unanswered questions. For example, don’t stop with who the victim was and who responded to the call. Include who discovered the incident, who reported it, who witnessed it, whom you talked to during your investigation, who marked and received the evidence, other people whom you notified, and so on as appropriate.
It may seem contradictory to say that a report should be both complete and concise. However, being concise does not mean leaving out important details. Rather, it means using words economically and omitting words that do not add value. Your documents should be free of the excessive wordiness that interferes with readability.

The engine company that arrived first on scene immediately began operations to search the first floor of the hotel and rescue anyone who might be trapped.

The first-in engine company immediately began search and rescue operations on the first floor of the hotel.
Poorly organized reports can leave readers feeling lost and confused, so it’s important that reports be well-organized.

The best way to organize information will depend somewhat on the type of report and the complexity of the situation. A simple incident report might work best if organized in chronological order.

An inspection report, on the other hand, might flow better if organized by type of violation (e.g., blocked exits in three areas) or by location (e.g., problems noted room-by-room).

A fire investigation report might require a combination approach. It may need a chronological account of what happened, then separate sections to address cause and origin analysis, evidence collected, statements from witnesses, and so forth.
A clear report is one that can be easily understood and that contains no ambiguities. If different people can read the same report and come up with different interpretations, the report is not clear.

Provide specific details.Vague references do not give readers much information. The more details you provide, the clearer the incident will be to readers.

The balcony collapsed because it was overcrowded.

The wooden balcony collapsed because it was overloaded. Structural engineers confirmed that it was designed to hold a maximum of eight people. Several witnesses said there were at least fifteen people on the balcony when it collapsed.
Many of the errors made in report writing are errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word choice. Errors in grammar and punctuation can affect both the clarity and accuracy of your report. They also make you look less professional.
Format of An Incident Report
To: Recipient
From: Reporter
Date: 7 July 2011
Who? What? Where? When?
Body 1:
Detailed information
Sequence of events
Body 2:
Who was directly involved? Who was injured?
Who discovered the incident?
Who reported the incident?
Who witnessed the incident? Who saw or heard something important?
Who responded to the incident?
What happened? (Include type of incident and enough details to paint a picture of the incident.)
What property/party was involved and to what extent?
Where did the incident occur?
Where was evidence found?
When did the incident happen?
When was the incident discovered and reported?
When did emergency responders arrive on scene?
When was the incident brought under control?
When will follow-up activities take place?
What actions did you take?
What were the results of your actions?
What automatic systems were involved (alarm systems, sprinkler
systems, etc.)?
What evidence was found, photographed, and/or collected?
What hazardous materials or conditions were you and your crew exposed to?
What equipment was used, damaged or contaminated?
What equipment must be repaired or replaced?
What warnings did you provide the responsible party before you left?
What follow-up is required?
Who took what actions?
Who is the responsible party?
Who was notified of the incident?
Why did the incident occur? Was it accidental or intentional? What factors contributed to the incident?
Why did you take the actions you did?
How did the incident occur?
How was the incident discovered?
How is this incident related to other incidents (if applicable)?
How was evidence or samples collected?
How was information obtained?
concise summary of course of action to be/that has been taken.
Which sample is the
objective one?
Report written by: XXXX XXXXXX [full name]
It is a type of report which you put up for the Principal, the police, a lawyer, an insurance company, etc, summarizing the events in an incident which may be helpful to them in their investigation of the incident, which may involve a fight, a car crash, a fire, etc.
police reports are basically factual; recounts, used to record details about a particular event.
some grammatical features
of factual recount:
write the events in chronological order
write in 3rd person
use indirect speech/reported speech when reporting what happened
use expressions that show time and the sequence or order of events
use nouns and noun phrases and adjective phrases to make clear what the events are and describe some of the people involved.
Use the passive voice as and when approptriate to report what has happened.
use past and perfect tenses to retell the events and report the words spoken.
fact or fiction
"the class was stunned and silent"
VS "we stopped talking immediately"
'She dropped the glass and exclaimed loudly' VS '"This glass is burning me!" exclaimed Mary'
eg "before", "at first", "then", "next", "lastly", "after this", "finally"
Write: 'The quiet and attentive class', rather than just 'the class'
Write: 'The long and difficult experiment' rather than 'the science task'
Write: 'The full, glass beaker smashed to the floor' rather than 'she dropped the glass'

NOT: 'the attractive, dark-haired student was fighting back the tears as they rolled down her cheeks'
'The beaker of hot liquid was dropped by Mary' VS 'Mary dropped the beaker of hot liquid'
Write: 'The whole class was not fooling around.' [past tense]
Write: 'The class had been playful...' [past perfect tense]

NOT: 'Mary and her friends are too playful during Science lessom today.'
When making a police statement, we sometimes do not know the truth, but we can surmise from the situation we believe it true. We can use words like:

"appear", "seem", "suspect", "presume", "apparently", "allege", "assume", "deduce"
Using the third person
Using Reported Speech
using time sequence expressions
Using Noun, Noun Phrases + Adjectives & Ajectival Phrases
Using Passive Voice when appropriate
Using Past & Perfect Tenses
Fact or Fiction
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