Writing a crime report requires accuracy, attention to detail and the ability to write clear sentences that only state the facts. Stick to the 5 W's: "who, what, when, where and why" when writing the report, and include as many facts as possible.
Good crime reports are written with detail and offer a clear and precise picture of what occurred. The checklist below helps the writer to include all the necessary information in a clear manner.
- Use the 5 W's
- Include full names and contact information
- Include investigation details
- Keep the writing simple
- Stick to the facts
The 5 W's include "who, what, when, where and why." By including these in the checklist for the report in the beginning, it is easier to fill in the gaps and not forget any important information.
Any witnesses or suspects included in the report should have their full name and contact information used. Ask for a backup number for each contact in case they change their number or have their phone shut off.
Include fingerprints, blood stains, pictures or any other investigation material in the report with each piece documented as to what it is, who it is for and how it was obtained.
Start each sentence with a name. Avoid using outdated report practices and clearly state who did what without using any passive voice. Avoid slang or insensitive language unless directly quoting someone in the report.
Avoid generalizations when writing the report and stick to only the facts. Instead of stating that the suspect was nervous, use his full name and state what his actions were, such as looking over his shoulder 10 times in 10 minutes or shaking hands and being unable to make eye contact.