You are on page 1of 16

USING YOUR POCKET

NOTEBOOK
By Sean Pasquale
INTRODUCTION

Much of a Security officers time is spent gathering facts and


evidence that will be used in court to support a criminal
prosecution. The pocket notebook is used to record information that
may be used as evidence. It is therefore an important document
that must be used correctly. Each security company will have its
own policy detailing local procedures for completing pocket
notebooks and other documents at the scene of incidents or during
investigations. The guidance given in the following pages
represents general rules which shouldbe applied to the completion
of pocket notebooks and should be considered inconjunction with
company policy.
THE POCKET NOTEBOOK

The majority of police officers are issued with a pocket notebook which is an
official document and must be carried at all times when on duty. The book isissued
by a supervisor and a record is kept of all books issued. It is company property and
should be stored centrally after completion until it is required for reference or for
use when giving evidence.
The pocket notebook is used to record evidence and information relating to an
offence or incident. Pocket notebook entries will normally be written althoughthey
may be in sketch form, such as a floor plan to locate where property was found
during a search of an employee.
Pocket notebook entries should form a comprehensive record of an event to
ensure that you can refer to the maximum amount of information when giving
evidence in court. Entries will be used as the basis of reports or statements; both
these documents are merely extracts of the facts from the notes and should not
contain any substantive material that was not recorded at the time.
THE POCKET NOTEBOOK

You may use the notebook to refresh your memory when giving
evidence, providing the court is satisfied that the entries were
made at the time of the offence or incident or as soon as
practicable afterwards. The pocket notebook is subject to the
scrutiny of the court and in order to support its integrity a number
of rules for its completion have been established. These should
become second nature to you and, if followed carefully, will help to
promote your reliability as a witness and the reputation of the
service as a whole. Failure to comply with these rules may lead the
court to question the accuracy of your evidence and your honesty
as a witness. This in turn may result in the exclusion of your
evidence and ultimately in the dismissal of the case.
WHEN TO USE IT

The diversity of events with which you will be involved makes it


impossible to provide a comprehensive guide as to when an entry should
be made in a pocket notebook or the precise detail it should contain.
However during your training you will be able to practise making entries.
The general rule is that it should be used to record all information or
intelligence relating to offences and other events or incidents that come
to notice, where it is likely that are part or statement will have to be
completed. For example, a record must be made of the description of
any suspect as first given to you by a witness. This requirement is made
by the Codes of Practice to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
(PACE). The Codes provide instructions to the police in dealing with many
incidents and occasions such as searching and interviewing suspects.
You will cover PACE and the Codes during your training.
WHEN TO USE IT

There are events for which specific official documents are provided for
completion at the scene or during your investigation. These include road traffic
accident cards, crime reports, process cards and fixed penalty notices. On these
occasions the pocket notebook is usually used only to make an entry referring to
your attendance at the incident and the completion of the other documents,
although there are variations in force policies.
Accurate notes should be made at the scene of the incident and at other stages
of the investigation to enable the information to be used at a later date. The
notes should not be limited to those matters that you are able to give in
evidence, but should include all material that may have some bearing on the
incident and the investigation. An example of this would be the exact words used
by a victim or witness which you may not be allowed to give in evidence but may
be significant at a later stage in the investigation. The importance of this will
become clearer when you have studied the rules governing hearsay evidence.
HOW TO USE IT

The pocket notebook is principally for your own use although it may be
examined by your supervisors and by lawyers or court officials when you
are giving evidence during a court case. The circumstances in which you
have to make entries in the notebook may make it difficult to maintain
neat writing. For example, you will need to make verbatim records of
what victims, witnesses or offenders say. You must, however, ensure that
all entries are legible. As mentioned previously, in order to support the
reliability and accuracy of entries in the pocket notebook a number of
rules have been established. These are intended to ensure that entries
are made at the time of the event they refer to and are not the subject of
unauthorised or dishonest alteration. If the rules are followed, the entries
and consequentially the evidence that they support should withstand
scrutiny.
HOW TO USE IT
Entries should be made in black ink.
Entries should be made at the time of the event which is being recorded
or, where circumstances prevent this, as soon as possible after the event.
Where there is a delay the specific reasons should be included, for
example the conduct of the suspect or other persons involved in the
incident.
The day, date and year should be recorded and underlined at the
beginning of entries for that day.
All surnames and place names should be in block capitals.
Entries should be made only on the lines of the pages of the book and all
lines and pages should be used.
Each entry should include time and location.
Names and addresses of victims, offenders, witnesses and informants
should be recorded. Additional information about the offender may refuse to sign
relevant depending on the incident.
Where the incident involves vehicles, property or documents, full
descriptive details should be recorded including unique identifiers, e.g.
registration marks, serial numbers etc.
It is often necessary to record information or a persons account of an
incident immediately into the notebook and, as a result, the entry may not
necessarily make sense to a reader. Such an entry should be made in
direct speech wherever possible, for example:
Q: Can you explain what happened?
A: Yes, I was walking along the High Street when
It should then be followed by a section of narrative which accurately
explains the event.
A note should be made of any comments made by a person suspected of
committing an offence whether these comments are in response to your
questions or not. The person should be invited to read the note and write
an endorsement to the effect that I certify that this is a true and accurate
record of the conversation that took place. This should be signed by the
suspect and the officer as the conversation may be construed to be an
interview. If the suspect does not consider it to be correct, he or she
should be invited to indicate which details are considered to be inaccurate
and to sign a record of those details.
It is often necessary to record information or a persons account of an
incident immediately into the notebook and, as a result, the entry may not
necessarily make sense to a reader. Such an entry should be made in
direct speech wherever possible, for example:
Q: Can you explain what happened?
A: Yes, I was walking along the High Street when it should then be followed by a
section of narrative which accurately explains the event. A note should be made of
any comments made by a person suspected of committing an offence whether these
comments are in response to your questions or not. The person should be invited to
read the note and write an endorsement to the effect that I certify that this is a true
and accurate record of the conversation that took place. This should be signed by
thesuspect and the officer as the conversation may be construed to be an interview. If
the suspect does not consider it to be correct, he or sheshould be invited to indicate
which details are considered to be inaccurate and to sign a record of those details.
HOW TO USE IT

If the suspected person refuses to read or sign the note, this should
be noted and signed by the officer. The senior officer present should
read the note over to the suspect and ask whether he would like to
sign it as correct, or indicate the aspects he considers to be
inaccurate, then endorse the pocket notebook as to what has taken
place. Where whole or part pages are accidentally left blank a
diagonal line should be drawn across the blank area and omitted in
error written across the page if a mistake is made, cross it out with
a single line so that the word or words remain legible. Initial the
deletion and follow it with the replacement word or words.
HOW TO USE IT

If the suspected person refuses to read or sign the note, this should
be noted and signed by the officer. The senior officer present should
read the note over to the suspect and ask whether he would like to
sign it as correct, or indicate the aspects he considers to be
inaccurate, then endorse the pocket notebook as to what has taken
place. Where whole or part pages are accidentally left blank a
diagonal line should be drawn across the blank area and omitted in
error written across the page if a mistake is made, cross it out with
a single line so that the word or words remain legible. Initial the
deletion and follow it with the replacement word or words.
JOINT NOTES

Where a number of officers have witnessed the same incident, or


have been present at an interview, they may confer when
preparing notes. Such notes must, however, include only genuine
recollections of the officers concerned. Where joint notes have
been made it is necessary that the officers endorse their own
pocket notebooks to the effect that this has happened and include
the times between which the note-writing took place, the location
and who was present.
NO POCKET NOTEBOOK
AVAILABLE
When you are off duty and not in possession of your pocket
notebook or when, for any other reason, it is not available to you
and there is the need to make notes, you may use any available
piece of paper for the purpose. The general rules for note taking
should be followed wherever possible and the note should be
formally preserved as an exhibit and attached to any subsequent
report or statement. It may be used as a reference when giving
evidence and should therefore be available for inspection at court.
AIDE - MEMOIRE

The Report Book Rules can be summarised by the


mnemonic ELBOWS
NO ERASURES Erasures
NO LEAVES TORN OUT Leaves torn out
NO BLANK SPACES Blank spaces
NO OVERWRITING Overwriting
NO WRITING BETWEEN THE LINES Writing between lines
And
STATEMENTS IN DIRECT SPEECH Statements in direct speech
REVISION QUESTIONS

1. In the notes there are rules for using your pocket notebook
(PNB).
List four of them.
2. When should you make an entry in your PNB?
3. What is the procedure if a mistake is made?
4. State the mnemonic ELBOWS.
5. What do you do if your PNB is unavailable?