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How to write a daily occurrence book

How to write a daily occurrence book by SIRV

How to write a daily occurrence book is a frequently asked question. Whether you’re new to occurrence books or uncertain, this is the ultimate guide on how to write a daily occurrence book.

Introduction: Know your way around an occurrence book

An occurrence book is a record of notable events. The security occurrence book format often looks like this:

How to write a daily occurrence book report - Sample occurrence book

It’s usually positioned at a fixed location wherever there is a physical security presence.

Headings in the daily occurrence book

Not all security occurrence book formats are the same. However, below are some common headings:

General headings

Site no: A unique number that does not change. This is provided by the employer.

Date: Today’s date

Day: The name of the day of the week

Site name: The name given to site

Time on: Time the book is opened

Time off: Time the book is closed

S/O name and no: Security Officer’s name and identity number

Site equipment check: Tick relevant boxes to show checks have been made

Entry headings

Time: This is the time you make the entry. It is not the time of the event. 

Log no: A sequential number, starting at the top of the page number 1, then 2 etc. Often the book come with printed numbers. 

Report and action taken: Enter relevant information, such as time of event and more, see below.

Signature: Add your signature. Often security officers will also add their initials or full name alongside their signature.

Supervisor check

If relevant at the end of a shift a supervisor will add:

Name: Supervisor name

Signature: Supervisor signature

Date: Today’s date

Time: Time the book is closed

How to write a daily occurrence book - access

Who should access the daily occurrence book

It’s usual to open a book at the start of a shift and close at the end.

Who should open and close the occurrence book

If you are a lone security officer you will open and close the book for your shift. However, if you have a security supervisor then they may open and close the book. In this case, the supervisor will make the opening and closing entries.

Open at start of shift: Add an entry when you open the book. Add any comments brought forward from the last shift or time before.

Close at end of shift: Add an entry at the end of the shift, add any remarks for the next shift.

Who should make entries

Entries should be made by authorised personnel only. This could be a security officer or supervisor. However, on occasion, non-security staff may be authorised to make entries.

Who should view the book

The daily occurrence book may include sensitive information. Therefore, it’s important access is restricted.

The daily occurrence book is often only viewed by security personnel. However, viewing rights may be extended to non-security personnel.

In addition, being a security officer does not grant access to all occurrence books on site. For example, if you operate on a site that uses more than one book at different locations, access may be restricted to officers at those locations.

How to write a daily occurrence book - where to store DOB

Where to keep the occurrence book

To control access and avoid damage the daily occurrence should be kept in a secure, dry location.

How to write a daily occurrence book - what to write

Write in the daily occurrence book

Occurrence books are a permanent record of events. Therefore, use a pen with permanent ink to make entries. Do not use a pencil because pencil is easily erased and fades over time.

Handwriting and legibility

Many people have handwriting that is difficult to read. Therefore, to avoid this problem many security officers use electronic security occurrence books like SIRV’s DOB. However, if you have a paper book it is important your handwriting is readable. Consider using CAPITAL LETTERS. Because writing in capital letters slows down writing and makes each letter easier to read.

Spelling

If you use an electronic book your text will be automatically checked for spelling errors. However, if you are using a paper book remember:

  • A daily occurrence book is not a writing test, do not get anxious.
  • Use a dictionary if uncertain about how to spell a word.

What to do when someone records wrongly in an occurrence book

If you or someone else makes a mistake do not score through or mark out the error. Make a reference to the error and then add the correction elsewhere.

SIRV uses a versioning system. Therefore, no entry is ever deleted but new versions are updated. This means there is a full audit trail of changes made.

ELBOW

ELBOW is a useful acronym to help you remember some basic rules. Do not:

  • Erase. Do not rub out or score through mistakes. Initial the error and make another entry.
  • Leaves should not be torn out of a book. Even if the page has only one entry. Any errors should be initialed and explained.
  • Blank spaces are not helpful. Because if your book has a reference coding system, any spaces will make the system hard to follow. Avoid blank spaces and use all the lines in the book.
  • Overwriting is difficult to read and destroys previous entries. Do not overwrite.
  • Writing between lines makes reading difficult. Do not write between lines.

Avoid these problems, try our electronic DOB

When to make entries in the occurrence book

Make an entry only if it is not a distraction from an ongoing incident. Prioritise the incident on site, then make an entry.

If, for whatever reason, you do not have time to complete a full entry, make an abbreviated entry and complete as soon as possible. For example, if it is the end of shift and an incident occurs, you may not have time to complete a full entry. In this instance, make an abbreviated entry and complete when next on shift.

How to write a daily occurrence book - what to write

What to write in an occurrence book

It is hard to know what to write in a daily occurrence book. However, try answering the below questions to capture important information:

  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • Who was involved or witnessed the incident?
  • When did it happen?
  • How did it happen?

If you have trouble remembering this list try reading Rudyard Kipling’s Six Serving Honest Men.

How to write an entry in the daily occurrence book

An occurrence book is not a substitute for writing a full report. However, the same principles used for report writing are applicable for writing in an occurrence book.

Report writing is a skill developed over time. A well written report is easy to follow, objective and truthful. These tips will help you become a better report writer.

Order

Write the report in a chronological order. Detail events in a time sequence from the past to present.

Facts not Fiction

Record the facts rather than a story or narrative. For example, imagine one night you’re walking and you discover an injured person lying in the street. You spot someone running away from the scene. Many people would assume the person running away is the assailant (this is what we see in movies all the time). However, the person running away could be someone running for help.

Because this is a familiar story, it is tempting to assume the person running from the scene is responsible for the person’s injuries. However, report writing is not story telling. Record the incident as you find it, don’t apply judgments. Use the same rule when you take witness statements.

No Lies

Be honest, even if you’re not proud of your actions.

What to put in and leave out of the occurrence book

What should and should not be put in the book? Check back at previous entries to see what others have entered. Alternatively, seek guidance from site manager.

Below are two general rules to help decide what to enter:

The Expected

  • Repeating duties: Security patrols, lock-up and unlock, fire drills etc.
  • Visitors and deliveries made to site
  • Audits and inspections: CCTV camera and fire extinguisher checks etc.
  • Assignment Instructions: Review and testing of assignment instructions
  • Shift change over remarks: For instance, equipment checks and ongoing issues to be resolved in the next shift
  • Shift time: Start and end time of shifts

These events may appear mundane. However, if they are not put in the book a reader will assume they have not occurred.

The Unexpected

The daily occurrence book should include unexpected security and safety events. Examples of these events are:

  • Incidents: Building faults, near misses, trespass, theft etc.
  • Security precautions: Additional security precautions taken. For example, liaising with the nearby café about recent hostile reconnaissance activity.
  • Support: Support provided on site for example, helping a driver in distress with their vehicle parked on site.

How much to write in an occurrence book

Often a daily occurrence book does not give a lot of space to write everything that happens. Therefore, use separate paper or report document and reference that in the occurrence book.

Try to avoid writing over multiple lines or in the margin of the book. This can be difficult to read.

How to write a daily occurrence book: Summary

Even though today we have lots of technology the daily occurrence book remains an irreplaceable record of account. If there are disputes or claims you may be asked to present your occurrence book in front of others. Therefore, take the time to learn how to write a daily occurrence book and you will be happy to show it to anyone.  

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