Section 4 - Report Writing
Security guards are required to complete written reports of occurrences, duties performed and
comprehensive descriptions of their tasks/observances.
Security guards are required to write a variety of reports for different audiences. It is imperative that
reports are written in a clear, standardized format to ensure information is conveyed accurately and
without bias. We will be discussing:
The importance of using a notebook and the rules and format for taking accurate notes
Different types of reports depending on the situation (ie. incident, use of force, witness statements)
The basic elements of report writing (ie. date, time, location, actions/behaviours, description of
individuals, observations, time of completion, etc.)
Content of reports (ie. factual information only)
The legal implications of reports (ie. necessary for audits or evidence in court)
The difference between statements and reports
How to properly distribute reports (ie. problems with e-mailing confidential reports)
Reports and Logs
As a key communication tool:
Reports and logs are necessary to good management.
They enable the security department and management to evaluate security needs
and detect problem areas by tracking and categorizing incidents.
The info obtained from reports and logs is converted into statistical data.
Data is then analyzed and will be used to justify necessary changes in an
organization or security detail.
Reports and logs provide proof that site has adequate security.
Reports and logs are also useful for insurance purposes.
Valuable documents for proving or disproving claims in a court of law.
A notebook is arguably a security guard’s most important tool – it is used on a daily basis to provide an account of the
events that unfolded on that day.
A notebook should be kept as neat as possible, be organized chronologically, and should not be tampered with. Overall, the
accuracy and the transparency of the notebook will reflect the integrity and reliability of the security guard.
It is the security guard’s responsibility to make sure that their notebook is secure. However, the notebook is ultimately the
property of the security guard’s employer, so entries should be as legible as possible, with an emphasis on accurate
spelling of names and locations.
Reports should stick to factual information and observations, rather than opinions and assumptions, and should contain
answers to the following questions:
Who? (names of suspects, victims, complainants, witnesses, etc.)
What? (description of what happened, what each person involved did, what evidence is available, etc.)
When? (time, date, sequential account of what happened from start to finish)
Where? (location where the incident took place, where each person involved was situated, where evidence was found,
Why? (describe the motives for what happened, if they are evident)
How? (how the incident happened, how each person involved was acting, etc.)
Reports as Evidence
Security guards may receive a subpoena and be called upon
to testify in court in relation to a situation they dealt with.
They may be asked to recall specific details about the
situation, so it is imperative for the security guard to keep
thorough and accurate notes.
When on the witness stand, the security guard may be
permitted to refer to his or her notes.
Prior to appearing in court, the guard should carefully review
all notes and try to remember as many details about the
situation as possible.
A security guard may be required to take a statement to secure the information
provided by a witness. The key purpose of taking a statement is to ensure an
accurate record of the recollection of an event or occurrence by the witness.
General good practice is for statements to include the following:
Full name of the witness, date of birth, identification.
Employment of the witness and contact information.
Address of the witness, location of statement.
Date of interview.
Time commenced and concluded.
Name of security guard and company who took the statement.
An introduction paragraph including day’s events and observations.
Verbatim (word for word) transcription of the witness’ recollection of the events.
Closing paragraph that ends the statement.
For example, the closing statement can read:
“I, (witness name), have read the above six-page
statement and find it to be accurate to the best of my
recollection. I have been advised that I could omit,
delete or change any part of the statement prior to
Writing Notes and Reports
All writing involves these four factors:
Audience: who you are writing to – all of the possible readers
Purpose: why you are writing – to record, inform, persuade, entertain, etc.
Format: how you will write – the style. For example: notes, report, letter, list,
proposal, poem, article, short story, etc.
Voice: how you want it to “sound” – the tone. For example: formal/informal,
personal/impersonal, serious, funny, sarcastic, etc.
A simple example of writing is a grocery list, but even it involves these four factors:
Purpose: to remind yourself what to buy
Voice: informal – may include slang, personal abbreviations, misspelling
What factors are involved in note taking?
Note taking factors continued
There are some important things that you need to do as soon as you start taking notes, so that they
become a habit:
Write your name and other identification information at the front of the book.
Only use the special notebook with numbered pages that your employer gives you.
Write the date the book was started and finished, and the book number.
Use only one notebook at a time.
Start each day with the time using the 24-hour clock, the date, your location, your supervisor, your
partner, weather conditions and any unusual circumstances.
Record the time before each entry and arrange your notes in the order that things happened
Use a pen, not a pencil.
Draw a single line through mistakes, and write your initials beside the line.
Fill each line of your notebook. If you leave a space between entries, draw a line through the space,
and write your initials beside the line.
Write or print neatly, so that others will be able to read it.
Use only common abbreviations, for example ON for Ontario. If you make up your own abbreviations,
make sure you explain them the first time you use them.
You must make your notes right away or as soon as possible after the incident. They should always be
done within 24 hours.
Note taking factors continued
If you follow these guidelines, your notebook will look
clean and well organized. It will add to your image as a
professional, and this will be important if your
supervisor uses it to evaluate you. A notebook with
clear writing, where nothing is erased and no pages are
removed, can be accepted as strong evidence if it is
ever used in court.
Note taking factors continued
When writing in your notebook you should always use an objective tone. This means you state the
facts as you observe them without adding any personal opinions or judgments.
Here is an example of the difference:
Opinion: The suspect was drunk.
Fact: The man was staggering away from the building and when I approached him I could smell
alcohol. His eyes were red and his speech was slurred.
Remember, your notes are a permanent record. Personal comments could cause problems for you
later on. If you stereotype people or write rude things about someone, your notes will not be taken
seriously. They could even be used against you in court.
Put quotation marks around the exact words that a person says, so that it is clear that they are the
other person’s words, not yours. Do not use slang or swear words in your notebook, unless you are
quoting someone directly. For example, an entry in your notebook may look like this: Suspect X
yelled, “I’m going to waste that lying jerk.”
What kinds of things should I write in my
Get into the habit of recording anything that will help you fill out a report later.
This could include things such as:
suspicious looking people or vehicles
special requests for equipment
anything that looks out of place
a security break
complaints or upset people
damage to equipment or property
signs of criminal activity
evidence of a crime
description of the scene
strange phone calls
Things to write continued
The key to writing good notes is to record as many details as
It is better that you write too much instead of too little.
If you observe an incident that you know you will need to
write a report about, make sure your notes include the
answers to these important questions: Who, What, Where,
When, Why, and How.
Let’s look at each of these questions more closely to see
what you should include.
Things to Include
Who was involved?
suspects, victims, witnesses, people who made a complaint,
full names, addresses, phone numbers and descriptions
always use the person’s real name and include known nicknames or
Where did it happen?
name of company, exact street address, area where incident
if no address is available, describe the area. For example, in the
children’s play area near the swings
where you and others were when the incident took place
where the evidence or a suspect was found
details from start to finish
actions taken by the people involved
Why did it happen?
describe the reason if it is obvious, such as an accident
name the purpose (motive) for a crime if it is obvious
do not guess the reason if you do not know
When did it happen?
time using the 24-hour clock and date
when you last observed the area before the incident
when the event began and ended
when you had contact with a witness
when the police, fire department, or ambulance were called. When
How did it happen?
describe how the incident took place and what action you took in
response to it
explain how the incident came to your attention, how the suspect
and the witnesses acted, how the evidence was recovered, and how
the suspect was arrested
The 24-hour clock is used by
many people in many places
when the exact time is very
important. It is used in airports
and train and bus stations. It is
also used by the military, the
police, and the security industry.
You will need to write your notes
and reports using the 24-hour
clock. You will also use the 24hour clock if you have to testify
24-Hour Clock continued
To change from 12-hour clock time to 24-hour clock time
In the 24-hour clock system we give the number of hours since the beginning of
the day for the first two digits, and the number of minutes since the beginning of
the hour for the last two digits.
12-hour clock time 24-hour clock time
3:06 a.m.|3 hours since beginning of day, so time is 0306
12:05 p.m.|12 hours since beginning of day, so time is 1205
5:00 p.m.|17 hours (12 +5) since beginning of day, so time is 1700
8:14 p.m.|20 hours (12+8) since beginning of day, so time is 2014
12:59 a.m.|0 hours since the beginning of day, so time is 0059
phonetic alphabet – accepted as general in
Security Guard business
AAlfa (AL fah)
BBravo (BRAH VOH)
CCharlie (CHAR lee)
DDelta (DELL tah)
EEcho (ECK oh)
FFoxtrot (FOKS trot)
HHotel (hoh TELL)
IIndia (IN dee ah)
JJuliett (JEW lee ETT)
KKilo (KEY loh)
LLima (LEE mah)
NNovember (no VEM ber)
OOscar (OSS car)
PPapa (pah pah)
Q Quebec (keh BECK)
R Romeo (ROW me oh)
SSierra (see AIR rah)
TTango (TANG go)
U Uniform (YOU ne form)
V Victor (VIC tor)
W Whiskey (WISS key)
X X-ray (ECKS ray)
Y Yankee (YANG key)
ZZulu (ZOO loo)