Notetaking is an important practice in police case investigations. Police are encouraged to always carry a notebook where they document facts and other important details of the case during investigation. The main essence of having a notebook is to ensure nothing passes unnoticed and that the investigative officer can always refer to the notes to understand the case progress, identify investigation gaps, or even get a new direction on the case. Notes are taken to ensure no details are forgotten. This demonstrates good investigative skills that are likely to uncover the truth behind every case. With notes, it is easy to note changes of accounts among those interviewed, unknown information that may need further analysis, or even identify untruthful accounts that do not align with other case finding. Notes play an essential role in accurate case report writing, by ensuring all case details are recorded accurately. Good notes translate to a good case report and thorough and successful investigation. This paper research the importance of note-taking in case report writing. Based on the analysis, having good note-taking skills is the first step to a successful investigation.
The Role of Note-Taking in Completing a Case/Offense Report
Notes-taking is one of the most important and main actions of an investor at a crime scene. Notes taking is done for various reasons one being that notes need to be available in all cases to ensure that there are ready entries and clear documentation of action taken at the crime scene when the court or investigator needs to know or clarify something. Notes should include information of other data including scene description, physical evidence, and traces found at the crime scene. Taking notes starts after receiving a call for a particular case. The investigator starts taking notes on the date, and the time of the call, the information source, and instructions offered for scene storing. More notes are taken after the arrival at the crime scene including time of arrival, location and its description, the form of the crime, and all actions taken at the crime scene by who and when.
This can include who took photographs and fingerprints, who made the sketch, and who found or seek clues and material evidence (Arifi, 2015). The investigator also notes about all evidence or items or things found at the crime scene, their actual position. It focuses on noting objects, tracks, and material evidence in the crime scene, distinguishing evidence from trace which is relevant material associated with the event. Anything that can be randomly found at the crime scene is noted. It also notes all interrogated witnesses and what they said, the victim description and statement if arriving, and notes on other investigative experts’ comments or conclusions (Arifi, 2015).
Taking notes play an important role in assisting police or investigators to write a report about a crime. It also acts as a reference point during the investigation. Note-taking starts from the beginning of the case, at the reporting stage, and ends after its conclusion. The notebook thus has all small details about the case. This makes it an important document in writing case report and making references. Consequently, investigation notes need to be very accurate, detailed, and very specific in offering recommendations (Yu & Monas, 2020).
Language Required to Complete a Case / Offense Report
A case report is a legal document that needs to give clear communication of the cases. Like other legal documents, case reports need to be precise and to avoid ambiguity. The police language needs to explicit as possible as their report presents significant evidence in criminal proceedings. Case report writing needs to avoid using pronouns. Using nouns rather than corresponding pronouns is a unique feature both in police and legal language. Avoiding pronouns is considered an essential instrument for attaining clarity and precision. It is probable for police offers to reuse lexical items rather than using personal pronouns in their report narratives to avoid ambiguity of any form. Police reports also prefer using passive voice over active voice. This is because passive voice is in most cases the only practical option when one wished to prevent arbitrary inferences and avoid ambiguity, particularly about legal documents. Reflexive pronouns are also used frequently as agents of passive sentences in the police report (Cetkovic, 2017).
The Major Components of a Case Report in Detail
A case report is a systematically written document that gives a clear and precise description of the turn of events about the crime being reported. The report writing is highly guided by the notes taken during the investigation from the time the case was reported onwards. It therefore a form of reconstruction of the crime scene with evidence and testimonies to support it. To achieve this, the case report must include all relevant components needed in a police case report. This section describes this in detail.
Face Sheet/Cover Sheet
Each police report contains a face or front page that might comprise of a section for narrative writing or might need a separate page for the narrative section. The face cover comprises blocks where officers input basic information that include location, time, and date, the suspect, witness or victim biographical information and names, the corresponding state statute, and the form of committed crime among others. The face cover reports information is applied not just by the police investigation application. This information is transformed into data that are utilized by criminal justices learners, criminal analysts, researchers, and police managers to study crime trends in a country (U.s.sage.com, 2021).
The introduction section gives a clear description of the case including the crime involved when it took place and how. The introduction section tries to summarize the case based on the collected evidence and the investigation notes.
Reporting Person/Victim Statements
This section gives a clear introduction to the victim. It includes the victim’s biographic statement including the name, age, race, sex, height, hair and eye color, weight, and any other unique identifier such as the presence of a tattoo. It then gives the victim narrative regarding the crime. The victim may include details such that when the incident happened, the victim’s relationship with the offender, what transpired before and after the incident, and maybe why the offender did it. This only happens if the case does not involve manslaughter or murder. In some cases, the person reporting the case might be the victim of the case.
This section gives the witness account. It involves providing clear descriptive details about each witness. This includes witness name, sex, race, age, relationship with the victim, and the account of events as the witness experienced. This may be a friend or relative who was observing the incident all along or just a passerby who happened to witness the action unexpectedly.
The section gives the suspect statement based on the investigator’s interview or based on willing confession. The section includes the comprehensive suspect’s identification details, and the suspect’s relationship with the victim if any. It also gives the suspect accounts about the case in detail, without leaving anything out.
The Fact of the Case
The section involves detailed information of what the investigator has gathered about the case. This includes a description of the crime scene, a description of the victim’s condition at the crime scene including the presence of cuts or other injuries and the place they were inflicted, and forensic results after the analysis. It gives a general description of the damage caused to the victim. Considering all that has been gathered, the report writer gives the experts’ conclusion about the case. The fact of the case also include whether there is enough evidence to incriminate the suspect, and fine details on the motive of conducting the crime, evidence recovered, and the connection of the evidence with the victim or the suspect. It also gives the investigation final remarks about the case.
The Elements Significance to Both the Completion of the Report and Any Further Investigation
Each of the above-described elements has a significant value in writing a case report and in aid for further investigation. The fact sheet helps in introducing or summarizing the case. This makes it easy to preserve and find the file. It is also used to create the country’s crimes statistics. The introduction part gives a clear picture of what the case is all about, who is involved, and what transpired. The victim and witness accounts are used to direct the case by helping in recreating the crime scene and understanding the motive of the crime. The suspect statement helps in challenging the case, creating new possibilities, or affirming what is already known. The case facts help in presenting the case based on gathered supportive evidence, and testimonies, and identifying possible loopholes or unidentified facts about the case. All these play a supportive role in the completion of the report. They also hold important details that can aid in the further investigation based on what is already known and considered fact and what is still unclear or unknown.