Attention to detail is key when writing a security report — so is good writing. Security report writing should follow the rules of good writing while including all of the needed information. When done well, your security report will provide a narrative of an incident that is both detailed and easy to read.
What Is a Security Report?
A security report should be written anytime a relevant incident occurs. What that incident is depends on your business, but can include theft, a break-in, a fire, employee misuse of property and trespassing.
A security guard report is based on interviews, investigation and evidence. A good security [guard] report should include the following information:
- The date and time of the incident.
- The location of the incident, including address.
- The type of incident, and a detailed account of what happened.
- Names of any victims including their injuries.
- Names of any witnesses, along with their accounts of what happened.
- A description of the alleged perpetrators.
- Any property that was stolen or damaged.
- If any arrests were made.
As a rule of thumb, a security report should include the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how” of an incident.
Types of Security Reports
Security reports are not just written when there is an incident, since incidents hopefully do not happen with any kind of regularity. You may also have to write security reports such as:
- A daily activity report that includes a summary of what a security guard experienced during a shift, including any shift changes or unusual activity.
- A maintenance report, which helps to ensure that all security equipment is always in working condition.
- An accident report detailing the circumstances around any accident occurring on company property or nearby.
- A monthly summary report that includes an overview of all activity for the month so that you get a bigger-picture look at security and any areas where you may be vulnerable.
The types of reports you must submit are entirely up to your employer’s discretion and the arrangement they have with your security company. You may find yourself having to write several each month to be in compliance.
Preparing Your Security Guard Report
Before starting security report writing, a good amount of preparation needs to be done. Interviews should be conducted and evidence should be gathered before writing a security guard report. Ask open-ended questions that lead to more detail. That is the best way to ensure you have all the facts right and all the details to include.
It may take a few days to get all of the information you need, so do not rush it. It is more important to get everything correct than to provide a report you later need to resubmit for accuracy.
How to Write a Security Report
Once you have the needed information, you can begin writing your security guard report. If your business has a template to use, work from that. If not, write in a narrative form that reads like a story, with complete sentences and paragraphs.
Some good rules of thumb when writing an incident/security report are to:
- Stick to the facts and not insert your opinions.
- Be descriptive and detailed.
- Use quotes from witnesses, victims and suspects when possible.
- Write in plain language so that anyone reading the report can easily understand it.
- Be concise in your writing and only include relevant information.
- Write your report as though you are telling a story to someone so that it has a logical flow.
- Write in the third person to avoid any confusion.
- Be sure to correct typos and fix grammatical errors.
You may want to do a rough draft and edit it before submitting the final report.
Include a Timeline of Events
Even when you write in a narrative form, it can be helpful to include a timeline of events. This is especially helpful when several big events happened within the same incident.
You can include a timeline of events as a bulleted list or in paragraph form, but it should list in chronological order each event that happened. In either case, numbering the events can make your report even clearer.
An example of incident report-writing with a numbered list is:
- At 12:34 a.m. on May 23, 2019, the suspect initially trespassed on company property, scoping out ways to break into the building on 123rd Street.
- At 1:15 a.m. that same day, the suspect broke and entered into a window on 123rd Street.
- At 1:20 a.m., the suspect called over two of his accomplices to enter the window.
- At 1:55 a.m., the suspects exited the window with a variety of company equipment: three computers, two printers, one camera and two portable safes.
- At 2:05 a.m., the car drove away from the scene.
Turning to Useful Writing Resources
It may be challenging for you to complete your security report writing the first few times, especially if writing is not your favorite thing to do. If you need writing guidance, you can find examples online, take a writing course or read through books on writing.
It may also be helpful to describe the incident to another person and jot it down at the same time so that you write it as you explain it. You can also have another person read a draft of your report to make sure it flows well and you did not miss any important information.
As you get more comfortable doing security report writing, it will become second nature to you. You may even find that you enjoy crafting a narrative of the incident you observed.
The Importance of a Good Security Report
A security report does more than just document a notable incident. A security report can be turned over to law enforcement officials when they are investigating a case, or be used in a trial if the suspect is charged.
So it is important to have a factual, detailed and well-written security report submitted in a timely manner. The words you put on paper may have a profound impact on the lives of those who were involved, so it is vital to take the time to do your research, talk to all the involved parties and include as much detail as possible in your report.
Organizing Security Reports
Just as important as writing a good security report is having a good filing system for storing them. That way you can pull up a needed report at any time.
You can organize them electronically or in a file cabinet, but do so in a way that allows you or someone at the company to easily reference any report you need in the future.
- This article has been written as if a security officer was actually writing out a security report. The same basic steps to writing your report can also be used when typing a computer-generated form. The only difference would be that you would check your spelling using the computer's spell check feature.
- Not only can your report be utilized in a court of law, your security notes can be subpoenaed as well. If you keep your notes, make sure you can easily read what you wrote and that they match the facts on your report. If you do not clearly write the facts as they happened, you and your security company can easily be discredited on the witness stand.
Leslie Bloom has worked in upper-level management positions in both publishing and the mental health field. In addition to years of business and management experience, she has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications, including Metro Magazine. She holds degrees in both journalism and law.