Reports on assault from 2008-2012 showed too much variability in terms of their content and quality of reports. Furthermore, far too many records were incomplete. It is not possible for an organisation to track its responses to events or to learn from experience if record keeping is so poor.
PD41 stipulates that incident reporting should be accountable and transparent. Each report is required to be completed independently of other staff and should be free from subjectivity. Only the facts of the incident are supposed to be recorded. While many reports were independent, objective accounts of the incident, many espoused the opinion of the author and relied upon other reports to provide detail about the incident. The following example is an incident report which was submitted and accepted by a supervisor.
This prisoner is continuously creating problems for … staff…. Tragically he has a serious affliction which would be devastating for any person let alone a prisoner in prison. However he must realise that he can’t obstruct officers attending to their rightful duties. He is aware that the assault of a prison officer is a very serious offence and can expect retribution from our system.
This report gives no information about the incident, merely expressing an opinion of the staff member. It should not have been written as a record of the event and should not have been accepted by the supervisor.
The many well written reports indicate that training and guidance has been provided to staff writing reports. As such, improvements to reporting are more likely to be gained in improving the quality assurance process, and providing feedback and guidance to individual staff members when reports do not meet the policy guidelines.
In addition a large number of reports were not finalised. While some delay in finalising reports can be expected, particularly if the outcome of an incident involves an external agency such as the police, this does not account for the large numbers of incomplete reports. In March 2014 a review of incidents occurring in the first two weeks of 2013 was undertaken. Of the 971 incidents in TOMS for those two weeks, a third still had pending reports awaiting finalisation. It is unlikely that any of these incidents were awaiting additional information over a year later.