For frontline security roles such as security guarding or door supervision, writing an incident report is an essential part of the job. If a situation occurs a detailed report will help you (and if necessary the police) maintain a clear picture of the event, long after it has taken place.
Clear communication within your writing is what is required. This means using proper spelling, punctuation and grammar. (Abbreviated text-speak or Internet language has no place here.)
The incident report you write is more often than not treated as confidential. However, at the very least your immediate superiors will end up reading what you write. And of course, when the situation demands it the police, a solicitor or fire department personnel will need to read it.
Most employers that you work for will provide a template for you to base your report on. This keeps reporting universal throughout all shift patterns no matter which security officer is on duty.
When you first begin to write reports the template makes it easier, giving you guidance on what you need to include. These days you will often be writing your report on a computer, meaning the automatic spell checker will help you if spelling isn’t your forte. If your incident report is hand written it is important to ensure your handwriting is clear and legible. You never know how and when the report will be needed.
State Only the Facts
Only the facts are required in any incident report that you write. You are not being asked for your opinion. You might believe that a suspect is drunk, however it is much better to write down the facts that led you to that conclusion. For example, you could state that you smelled alcohol on their breath, or that the suspect had slurred speech. If you can remember any speech directly from the encounter, use quotes in your writing to signify what this was.
Your incident report should be clear and readable in its use of language. No matter the level of experience a person has, (the reader may not have an SIA licence and be fully trained in security), they should be able to understand the terminology you have used. After all, your report may one day have to be read out in a courtroom as evidence; the more people that can understand it, the better the report.
It may be tempting to use jargon, or abbreviate common terms that are particular to your area or establishment. Try to avoid this if possible. Or if you do have to use such language write the meaning of the jargon in brackets within the report.
This is an extension of the above point. Use formatting to make your report clear and readable. Don’t make it one long paragraph; break the text into sections so that each new point you are making is clearly defined.
Bullet points can be used to great effect, or even numbered lists as they draw the reader’s attention to important content. In the end it is a case of choosing a formatting method that will communicate the facts as simply and clearly as possible.
5 Ws, 1 H
Who, what, when, where, why, and how – If you can remember these details and they are clearly stated in your incident report, you will not go wrong.
In truth, if you are missing any one of these details your report is not complete. It is also important to include everyone that was present and involved with the incident, this would include any other security officers, any police, firemen, and other emergency personnel.
As has been stated, clarity is key. Be clear about what happened and where it happened; explain the details of the events that led up to the incident and how it all progressed.
Follow the above points and you will have a strong incident report that covers everything that would ever be needed from it.