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Control measure
Written reports

Control measure knowledge

Comprehensive report writing is a key aspect of gathering information and intelligence at an incident.

It is important that reports are accurate, clear and unbiased as they will support further research, formal investigation and/or statistical content.

In addition, witness statements including those of attending personnel should be made. Witness statements are often taken using an electronic template document developed by a fire and rescue service that should be based only on objective and personal recollection of events, not on opinions and unfounded conclusions.

Legislation, such as the Criminal Procedures and Investigation Act 1996 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 should be referred to regarding the legal standpoint for official report writing and note taking. This includes the need to:

  • Record the information as soon as practicable
  • Retain the information in its original and complete format
  • Reveal the information when requested
  • Review the information for accuracy, procedural applications and assessment of corporate or operational risks and threats

Reports can consist of:

  • Informal contemporaneous notes:
    • Made at the time of an incident or event, or as soon as practicable, whilst the facts of the situation are still fresh in the mind of the person making the record
    • Where operationally practicable, notes and records should be written in ink
    • Consider creating a permanent record of other notes - for example dry-wipe breathing apparatus (BA) entry control boards can be photographed
    • Notes have a legal significance in that they can capture more detail than a person may recall at a later date
  • Formally structured data gathering documents
    • Notes made on unofficial materials or papers should be transcribed onto an official form of record as soon as practicable after the event. The original form of the note must be retained and disclosed if required.
  • Contemporaneous note books, as issued to officers
  • Sketch plans, diagrams and photographs

All types of records should be signed and dated by the person creating them so as to enable their use within a formal legal context if required.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Develop guidance  for personnel to record relevant information to support investigations, in compliance with relevant legislation

  • Have policies and procedures that comply with the relevant legislation for note taking, recording information and report writing, for all appropriate levels of investigation

  • Provide appropriate means of recording information to be used in an investigation

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Record all relevant incident information in an appropriate format for use in internal and external investigations