In the eventuality of a crime or accident, do you know how to write a police report? If no, then below is a detailed guide on how to write a police report without implicating yourself or complicating things.
What is a police report?
A police report is a description of facts about a crime written by either a crime victim or a witness. It is used to report who perpetrated a crime as well as how, where, and why the crime was perpetrated.
Although the term police report could also mean the preliminary report documented by the police officer in charge of a crime case, here, the term is restricted only to reports written by a witness or victim. Because police officers use police reports as factual basis for the investigation of a crime, these reports must be detailed and accurate. And the writer must provide authentic information based on what he or she witnessed, not on unproven hearsay.
In this post, you will learn how to write a good police report should you have to write one. Now, keep in mind that you don’t just grab a pen and start writing right away. No. You must take certain steps before starting to write. These steps are discussed below:
How to Write a Good Police Report
1. Gather evidences
If you have evidences to prove that a crime actually took place, gather as much of them as you can. You will need to refer to these evidences in your report so as to make it credible and helpful to police officers during their investigation.
Also, having evidences will help you remember the crime scene more clearly, and you will easily recall how each piece of evidence came into the story. So, take time to make a mental list of your evidences so that you won’t leave out any detail that centers around them while writing your report.
2. Gather your testimony
If you are a witness to a crime, you will need to make notes about what you saw. Do this as soon as possible after the crime happened so that you won’t forget or mix up any important details. Studies have revealed that our memories of events change with time. They can change or diminish as time runs by. So, taking notes about a criminal activity immediately after it happened will help produce an accurate report.
3. Have a logical plan
Take your time to recall the sequence of events during a crime, and jot them down in bullet points. Reporting that A happened before B when B actually happened before A could pass wrong implications and impact negatively on police investigations. So, describe events in the order in which they happened.
4. Get a police report form
If you are a crime victim or witness, chances are that you are not used to writing police reports, and so you may not have an idea how to write one. In this case, visit the nearest police department or use the internet to find out how to fill and file a police report. After implementing the tips above, you can start writing your report.
5. Fill the report form give to you (if that’s the case)
Though most police reports are written in sentence structure, some are not. If you are given a form to fill instead of doing extensive writing, just fill the appropriate boxes on the form with the required information and submit it to the officer in charge.
6. Choose a convenient method
It is best to type your report on the computer. This will make it legible and help you check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. But if you are asked to write it by hand, write clearly, not in cursive or italic handwriting that cannot be read clearly by the parties involved in the crime case.
7. Write a prose summary of the crime incident, plus the facts
You may need to write a very long report if much detail is needed. But the general rule is to write a prose summary that will highlight events in a chronological order without leaving out any detail that will help the police in their investigation.
Start your report by describing the crime scene. State the facts of the case so that the reader will get acquainted with them immediately. Use concrete and descriptive words that will help the reader have a clear picture of what you are describing. Include details such as the address of the crime scene, evidences of the crime, and the date and time of the crime.
Then give a chronological narrative of what happened. Explain how you came upon the scene and what role you played. And explain everything you witnessed at the crime scene. Also, include the reason why you were on the scene at the time of the crime, your observations, and evidences that could help investigations.
8. Proofread your report
Check your report for errors. Nothing could be more irritating than a report that is ridden with grammatical and spelling errors. Delete any words that could be offensive or subjective.
9. Submit your report
Turn in your report to the proper authorities, usually a police officer.