A witness statement is a document made by or taken from a person containing details of the knowledge that person has of an incident. The best statements contain only relevant information. The statement should record what the witness did, saw, heard or felt/ conceived in relation to the crime. The purpose of recording statements is to:
- Provide a written record of the incident.
- Refresh the witnesses’ memory on the trial day.
- Assist the prosecutor in planning the case.
- Discourage witnesses from changing their testimony at the trial.
The statement writing rules are:
- All statements must be written in ink to prevent later claims by you that the statement has been altered.
- Statements should be recorded as soon as possible and where possible, on the same date of the incident.
- Indicate the page number of each subsequent sheets of paper used. For example, if statement is 3 pages indicate page 1 of 3 etc. This is to avoid any malicious loss of subsequent sheets.
- Do not write on both sides of the paper.
- Use simple language at all times.
- Sign each page of your statement.
- If you are writing the statement on behalf of the witness, make sure you confirm its accuracy before you sign.
When amending a witness statement, all errors should be crossed through using a single line and signed by the person making the statement. Do not erase or over-write errors. If you left out crucial information, you may record a further statement. Further statements should be recorded as close as possible to the date of the initial statement or they will be deemed to be an afterthought.