Writing investigative reports is a critical part of the job of a private investigator. The reports that private investigators write are read carefully by multiple parties — like Human Resource teams, senior business leadership, police, and possibly even the court. Their findings and evidence are often used as the basis for future disciplinary and legal action. For this reason, investigative reports must be well written.
This guide will explain how to write expert investigative reports that achieve their purpose and function as testimonials. We’ll explore various elements of an investigative report, including tips on how to write one.
What is an investigative report?
An investigative report is a document that details the findings and evidence related to a complaint or allegation. They are often commissioned immediately after receiving a formal complaint and used to establish whether facts support an allegation.
What are the elements of an investigative report?
Investigative reports come in all shapes and sizes. This is because the size and scope will depend on the type of allegation or the complexity of a particular case. More minor complaints like harassment generally require fewer elements than a large, multi-faceted insurance fraud case headed to court.
However, most reports will incorporate the following elements:
- Cover page: The first element of an investigative report is the cover page or case summary page. This should include a summary of all the relevant case information in a concise and scannable format. The type of information that should appear consists of the case number, date, location of the incident, contact information, and other relevant case reference information.
- Executive summary: This is the most critical piece of an investigative report and often the most read. It should provide a complete picture of the complaint or allegation, the scope of investigative activities, a summary of the findings, and a conclusion. The summary should answer all of the main questions:
- What happened?
- Who was involved?
- Where did the incident occur?
- When did it occur?
- How was the investigation conducted?
- What did the investigation find?
- Does the evidence support the complaint or allegation?
- What course of action is recommended?
- Allegation summary: This is where you should go into the most detail about the specific complaint or allegation. It will include details about what happened, who was involved, etc.
- Details of the investigation: This is the section of the report where you should document and provide detailed information. You will want to be careful and concise in summarizing every aspect of your investigation, so it’s easy to follow. You should explain every step of your investigation and present key findings and evidence along the way.
- Conclusion: This section wraps up your report with the critical evidence that led to your conclusion. It will also include the reasons why you believe the evidence either does or does not support the particular allegation or complaint.
Tips for writing an effective investigative report
Here’s how you can write an effective investigative report:
- Be clear and concise
- Be detailed
- Be thorough
- Be inclusive of all evidence
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