Notes, Note Taking and Evidence Collection FAQs

Notes, note taking and evidence collection are areas with clearly defined rules for court admissibility. Yet, despite the volumes of information available on these topics, only a small amount qualifies as "must know" material. The Kaufman report provided a wealth of information, positive and negative, with regards to notes and note taking. For those with an interest in this area, a Google search will bring up the entire report.

As per the Kaufman Report, Recommendation: 100; What must be done with original notes after they’ve been transcribed into another notebook or document?

The original notes must be retained to enable their examination by the parties at trial and their availability for ongoing proceedings.

What should be included in the primary note book with reference to any other information available?

These practices might involve, for example, direction that one primary notebook must bear a reference to any notes or reports recorded elsewhere.

While most security forces still use the standard 3X5 notebook, what did the Kaufman Report say about this?

The use of the standard issue “3” by “5” notebook should be revisited by all police forces. It may be ill-suited to present day policing.

Based on this report, what supervisory practice should you expect in regards with “your” notebook?

Ontario police (security) services must change their policies to ensure real supervision of note-taking practices, including spot auditing of notebooks.

What are the five stages of an interview?

Preparing for the interview
Commencing the interview
Recording the interview: Pure version statement taking
Decision: Suspect, Victim, or Witness?
Concluding the interview

Prior to court date, what three materials should the investigator prepare before they are called as a witness?

Names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses

If the defense cannot discredit the facts they will:

Attempt to discredit you
Attempt to show you are mistaken
Attempt to show you are lying

What should be your standard answer when asked, “Did you collaborate in making up your notes?”

We never collaborate – it means to falsify and mislead. We discussed our notes.

Give a definition of "facts in issue".

The who, what, where, when and all issues found in the legislation that creates the offense.

The acronym for Crime Scene Management is CORE, what information does this refer to?

Control — Control the scene. Particularly access and any movement on or from the scene.
Observe — Observe everything. Touch nothing.
Record — As soon as you’ve activated emergency response, start making notes.
Evaluate — Things such as safety, establishing perimeter, and contamination of the scene.

A good rule of thumb for a first officer on scene is this: Protect NOT collect.

For evidence collection, remember to take the following precautions:

Don't Overlook or Destroy, Don't Add and Don't Change or Remove Evidence

What are the three forms of 'acceptable' evidence?

Testimony, Documentary, and Real.

List three types of evidence that are not usually permitted.

Opinion, Hearsay, and Character.

Rules of Evidence

What is the purpose of "The Rules of Evidence"?

These rules set out parameters to ensure the reliability of evidence.

Where do these rules come from?

They are derived from case law.

What are the relevant rules?

The "hearsay rule"
The "best evidence" rule
The "opinion" rule
and the "self-serving (character)" rule.

These are the questions we are most frequently asked regarding, notes, note taking and evidence collection. Depending on the number and regularity of inquiries, we may add pages just on these two subjects. Meanwhile we will continue to add to this section of FAQs as seems necessary.

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