You spend a lot of time and energy conducting an investigation. Finally, just when you think it’s over, it’s time to put together the investigation report. Depending on how information was gathered throughout the investigation, this task can become a nightmare. The accuracy and information contained in an investigation report is critical to the outcome of the investigation. Developing a standardized report template within your organization will make it easier for investigators to prepare high quality reports that would be accepted by the authorities should the case have to go to court.
One of the questions we often receive is what information really needs to go in an investigation report?
Here is our answer to that question:
1. Case Identification Information
The first item in the report should be information to identify the case. This information should include the case number, name of the investigator, case entry date and the date the case was assigned to an investigator for further investigation.
2. Source of Initial Complaint/Allegation
Record information that helps identify the person lodging the initial complaint: the complainant’s work phone number and extension, email address, employee number, office location (city, region, etc.), department and job title.
3. Details from the Initial Complaint
Harassment, discrimination, retaliation, fraud? This section is to identify what type of issue is under investigation. Include as much detail as possible about the initial complaint by addressing the following points:
- 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. Subject (the accused) Information
Gather the same information you did for the person lodging the complaint – this time, the information is about the person the complaint is against. Include their name and employee number, email address, work phone number and extension, office location (city, region, etc.), department and job title.
5. Purpose (scope) of the Investigation
Answer the question “what is the investigation trying to prove?” Sum up the purpose of the investigation in a couple of sentences. This section must paint a clear picture of the investigation for the person reading the report.
6. Investigator’s Notes
The case notes section should document each of the tasks assigned and action taken throughout the investigation. Include information such as:
- When the task was assigned.
- The date the task was completed and how.
- The name of the person who completed the task.
7. Summaries from Investigation Interviews
This section simply lists the following pieces of information about the investigation interviews:
- 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, etc.
- Location of the interview.
- Interview date.
In this section of the report, there’s no need to go into detail about the events of the investigation, as the details are included in the following section.
8. Credibility Assessments and Interview Notes
This section provides a brief overview of the key points from each investigation interview:
- Credibility Assessment– Certain factors will determine the credibility of an interviewee’s statements. We cover the topic of determining credibility in one of our other posts “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 of information.
- 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.
As simple as it sounds- list the evidence gathered throughout the investigation:
- Date the evidence was collected.
- Location of the evidence.
- Type/format of evidence collected- interview, video, photo, audio tape, e-mail, etc.
- Name of the person who presented the evidence, as well as their role in the investigation.
10. Recommendations and Next Steps
After reviewing the investigation materials, what type of action should be taken? Does evidence support that a violation of workplace policies occurred? Recommendations should remain inline with the consequences included in the company’s policies and procedures. As an investigator, submit your own recommendations for administering the consequences and what steps should be taken next. If the subject (the accused) is a repeat offender, include that point in the report, as it is justification for administering tougher penalties to someone who has no previous record of wrongdoing.
About the Author
Lindsay Walker is the Corporate Journalist at Customer Expressions Corporation, developers of the i-Sight investigative case management software platform, an integrated and customizable solution for corporate investigations. She maintains the company blog at i-Sight.com.