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Top 10 Investigation Report Must Haves

Standardized reporting provides investigators with a format to follow and reduces time spent preparing investigation reports.

Posted by Joe Gerard on August 30th, 2010

Writing investigation reports doesn’t have to be daunting. A standardized reporting structure improves the consistency of reports amongst investigators, provides investigators with a reporting format to follow and reduces the time spent preparing investigation reports. This information is all fine and dandy, however, a question we frequently receive is, what information do I actually need to put in an investigation report?

Here is our answer to that question:

1. Information to Identify the Case:

Begin the report with case specific information that identifies the case the report is related to. Include information such as the investigator’s name, case number, the date the case was entered and the date it was assigned to the investigator.

Need help writing investigation reports? Read our Ultimate Guide to Writing Investigation Reports.

2. Referral Source:

The next section should include the complainant’s information. The complainant’s work phone number, e-mail, employee number, office location, department and job title help identify the person lodging the complaint.

3. Allegation Details:

Harassment, discrimination, retaliation — what type of allegation is under investigation? In this section, be sure to include as much detail as possible about the initial complaint.

  • Identify the type of case.
  • Who the alleged victim is- may or may not be the same person as the complainant.
  • How the complaint was received- hotline, face-to-face, web form, etc.
  • Allegation details- what happened, where, when and any other information provided in the initial complaint.

4. Information About the Subject:

The information required for this section of the report is similar to that of the “Referral Source” section. However, it’s the subject’s (the accused person’s) information being documented this time. Include their name, e-mail, work phone number, office location, department and job title.

5. Investigation Scope/ Purpose:

Include a statement that describes the mission and objectives of the investigation. Answer the question “what is the investigation trying to prove?”

6. Case Notes:

The case notes section should include an overview of the tasks assigned and action taken throughout the investigation. Be sure to include a brief description of the task, steps taken to complete it, who completed the task and when.

Get started with your own report with this free Investigation Report Template.

7. Interview Summaries:

List the investigation interviews that took place throughout the investigation. Make sure the list is in chronological order, beginning with the first interview, ending with the last. Summary details are short and sweet, outlining:

  • Name of the interviewer- also include the names of any other people who sat in on the interview.
  • Name of the person interviewed and their role in the investigation- complainant, subject, witness.
  • Interview location.
  • Date of interview.

In this section of the report, there’s no need to go into detail about the events of the investigation- that’s what the next section is for!

8. Interview Reports:

Interview reports are brief summaries of each of the investigation interviews. In addition to the information in the above section, this part elaborates on the investigation interview to include:

  • Credibility Assessment– Certain factors will determine the credibility of an interviewee’s statements. We cover the topic of determining credibility in our post “Investigation Interview Questions to Determine Credibility“. This section of the report should list any indicators that contribute to the belief that the interviewee is or isn’t a credible source.
  • Investigator Notes– Summarize the introduction, incident overview and conclusion of each interview. In the introduction, outline the explanation of the interviewer’s role in the investigation, the purpose for the interview, efforts to maintain confidentiality and retaliation protections. The incident overview section should include the interviewee’s description of events related to the incident, whether or not they are aware of any witnesses, where/when the incident occurred and any background information linking the involved parties. Notes to be made about the interview conclusion should include thanking the interviewee, reiteration of confidentiality concepts, review of statements made and interviewee singing of investigator notes.

9. List of Evidence:

As simple as it sounds- list the evidence collected during the investigation. For the sake of the investigation report, include information such as:

  • Type of evidence collected- interview, video, photo, audio tape, e-mail, etc.
  • Name of person who presented the evidence, as well as their role in the investigation.
  • Date the evidence was collected.
  • Location of the evidence.

10. Recommendations:

Conclude the report with recommendations. After reviewing all of the investigation materials, what type of action should be taken? Does evidence support the violation of workplace policies? Make sure recommendations are backed up by the consequences outlined in the company code of conduct or other policies governing employee behaviour in the workplace. Include a plan of action, identifying next steps in taking corrective action.

Need some help with your own report?  We recommend you start with this free  Investigation Report Writing Cheat Sheet.

Reporting With a Case Management System

Case management solutions simplify the investigation reporting process, creating reports with the click of a button. Initially, a report template needs to be developed, outlining the sections of the report. Information from the investigation is pulled from the case file, automatically filling in each of the sections in the report. The report is then ready for export, with the investigator choosing the desired format for the report (PDF, MS Word document, etc.).

Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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