Reports should be stand-alone documents.
On some occasions, particularly where advice is sought and prosecution is not envisaged, a short summary report or other means of communication may suffice.
Where an investigation is likely to lead to enforcement action, a more detailed report or formal witness statement will be required, which follows the full report framework
Practices vary in the production of reports and statements. Currently two approaches are adopted for producing admissible witness evidence. In some cases, specialists produce a full report, which is updated when further information is received and then exhibited with a brief covering statement on an LP70 form.
Others produce a full statement on an LP70 form containing all the information from the report.
Both approaches are valid but it is suggested that specialists produce a report that can be formally exhibited in a statement on an LP70 form, which can then be read in court. This may also reduce duplication of effort.
Draft reports (electronic or hard copy) need not be signed but should always be dated. Whether these will be disclosed at a later stage will be a matter for the HSE’s prosecutor who will apply the appropriate legal tests.
Legal Adviser’s Office has provided guidance on the retention of draft reports/statements which explains the requirements of para 5.4 of the Criminal Procedure & Investigations Act 1996.
The report should be exhibited using the initials of the author and a consecutive number.
It should be single spaced or one and a half space if exhibited in an LP70 witness statement.
To formally exhibit the report in an LP70 witness statement, the usual form of words, as advised in the Enforcement Guide, is as follows:
'I produce a report of my findings (X pages long as exhibit XX/1) (initials of the author and the report followed by a number. This will always be ‘1’ unless the specialist has already produced exhibits in their LP70 statement), which is signed by me and dated (date of signature)';
The responsibility for the final content of the report remains with the author.
When a witness, including a Specialist signs a statement (LP70 –section 9 Criminal Justice Act), they sign a declaration, which states that the content of the statement is true to the best of their knowledge.
They also accept that they might be prosecuted if they knowingly state something, which they know to be untrue.
Where additional information becomes available after the report has been produced, consideration should be given to whether a revised report is necessary or, if the changes are only minor, the information could be produced as a supplementary report.
Details of the changes, referring to the sources of any new or additional information and setting out any revised conclusions, must be recorded.
When commenting on a report, colleagues should avoid using language that appears to suggest that they have assumed the role of author.
'Have you considered the …'or
'It would be helpful if you expanded your thoughts on …'
reflect neutral suggestions and can helpfully prompt the author to enhance the existing text.
On the other hand, prejudicial comments such as:
'I disagree' or
'This is nonsense'
are not valuable unless the person expressing those sentiments is fully acquainted with all the relevant facts and sets out in full the reasons for their disagreement.
It is common practice to include recommendations for future action in the report. They are seen as an important part of the work of specialists and a valuable source of information for regulatory inspectors, occupiers and duty holders.
However, they may not be admissible in future criminal proceedings and therefore the part of the report dealing with recommendations for future action should be attached as a separate sheet, which can be detached as necessary.