Incident reports are defined as formal written descriptions of unusual occurrences, particularly of intentional or unintentional actions that have or may have adverse consequences. If written correctly, an incident report will provide a factual account of the who, what, when, where and, if applicable, why and or how of an event without additional information of no importance.
The Importance of a Well Written Incident Report
The ultimate goal of an incident report is to document the details of a qualifying event for later discussion, investigation and or examination. Accordingly, to work properly, security guards must ensure that incident reports are well-organized, complete, concise and factual. If not, not only is evidence against the culprit weakened, but the reputation and credibility of the responsible security guard is also placed in jeopardy. As such, there are common characteristics that guards should always look to apply and avoid when writing incident reports.
Common Characteristics of Poorly Written Incident Reports
Typically, poorly written incident reports will:
- Not present thoughts in a clear and organized manner,
- Not contain enough detail,
- Not be factual/objective,
- Not contain proper grammar, punctuation and spelling, and
- Not paint a clear image to an individual who wasn’t there at the time of occurrence.
Common Characteristics of Well Written Incident Reports
On the contrary, well written incident reports will:
- Be presented in a clear and well organized manner,
- Be complete,
- Be thorough,
- Be factual/objective,
- Be grammatically correct, and
- Be able to paint a detailed picture to parties unfamiliar with the situation.
Following the Protocols, Procedures and Regulations of Your Employer
It is very important when writing an incident report to follow the protocol and procedures set out by your employer. Accordingly, security guards should first and foremost always be cognizant and up-to-date with the most current policies of their companies and be sure to have the proper incident report forms, if provided, readily accessible. Such forms are typically of great assistance to security guards as they can provide step-by-step templates to complete incident reports. Further, employer issued incident report forms also often provide to security guards a list of emergency contacts and brief summaries of mandated company policies on what actions to take before, during and after the documentation of the incident report. For instance, the incident report may share that the report should start at the the security officers time of arrival to the scene and end upon them leaving.
Note: Some employers and security agencies require security guards to write incident reports by hand. If this is the case, then remember to write as clear as possible and to avoid writing in cursive. In fact, if time and company policy permits, we highly recommend for security professionals to convert hand written incident reports to electronic reports via the utilization of word processing software. This will help to ensure that all incident reports are neat and legible.
Writing an Incident Report
Scenario 1: When an Incident Report Form or Template Exists
If an employer provides a company generated incident report template, then much of the work required to complete the report will be a fill in the blank exercise. However, remember to apply the good common characteristics shared above and to avoid at all costs the bad characteristics.
Here is an incident report template:
ABC Security Agency, LLC
Incident Report Form
Report any incident including bodily injury, property damage and youth protection:
- Immediately after the incident by calling the head office at: (123) 456-7890
- Follow-up by immediately completing and faxing this form to the head office at: (234) – 567-8901
PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY
|Nature of the Incident:|
|Place of the Incident:|
|Date of the Incident:||Time of the Incident:|
|Exact Location of Incident:|
|Weather Conditions: (if applicable)|
|Description of Incident:|
|Witness Name:||Home Phone:||Work Phone:|
|Witness Name:||Home Phone:||Work Phone:|
|Police Station Name/Number:|
|Police Station Address:|
|Name and Phone Number of Officer in Charge:|
Scenario 2: When an Incident Report Form or Template Does No Exists
In the event that an incident report form or template is not provided, professionals may utilize the following incident report format.
Time Frame to Write the Incident Report
Incident reports should be written within the first 24 hours of the incident. Writing the report within this time frame is suggested because the longer it takes to record the incident, the less likely the security guard will be able to remember regarding the specific facts and circumstances of the event.
The First Sentence
Should a security professional not be provided an incident report template by their respective employer, they should begin the report with a sentence stating the basic facts of the incident, such as, the:
- Time, date and location of the incident (using exact street address),
- Names and contact information of all involved parties, and
- Names of the other guards and or officers present.
Be sure to also include the basic nature of the incident that you are at the scene for.
Use of the First Person Narrative
When writing this report, it is best to use 1st person narrative to explain what happened. Answer “who, what, when, where, and why” while including an accurate/honest description of your own role in the situation.
Where to Start and Finish Incident Reports
Many experts recommend for incident reports to begin at the time of the security guard’s arrival to the scene. Along these same guidelines, it is recommended for incident reports to end at the time the responsible security guard leaves the scene. Further, once the report is complete, be ensure that it undergoes a revision of some sort so that when the report is requested or accessed, the next reader is able to grasp what happened with ease and full understanding.
Standards for Submitting
When it is time to submit the report, locate the proper person and/or department that the report is to be sent to. If possible, submit the report in person and be ready to answer any other questions that may be asked of you for clarification. Sometimes reports may have to be e-mailed or faxed. If this is the case then you should follow-up with a phone call no longer than 10 minutes after sending to guarantee that your incident report was received.
Finally, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You have written a detailed incident report!