Home > Research Basics > Compiling Information or Evidence

Compiling Information or Evidence

By: Robin Mizell - Updated: 5 May 2016 | comments*Discuss
Evidence Evidence Collection Evidence

How you go about compiling evidence will depend on your ultimate objectives.

Is there a possibility your investigation will uncover evidence of a serious crime? If you believe it might, then the manner in which you plan to collect and document evidence will be of the utmost importance. In fact, if you take part in the process of gathering certain types of evidence when you have a personal relationship to the individual suspected of wrongdoing, the validity of the evidence can easily be called into question. If a reasonable person might wonder whether you could have fabricated or tampered with evidence in order to implicate someone in a serious crime, then you should leave the evidence collection to the authorities and act only according to their instructions.

Let’s assume you’re launching your own investigation into something that’s morally offensive to you but not a crime. Or, let’s say you’re gathering and documenting information about a crime so minor that you have the legal right to decide whether the person responsible is prosecuted. Perhaps you simply suspect someone cheated you. In these situations, you face considerably less liability if your investigation is less than perfect. If the stakes are relatively low—or the information you gather is solely for your own use—then you may be willing risk the possibility of failing to meet evidentiary standards established by law.

Always take care not to violate the law in order to gain access to information or evidence.

Gathering Information Effectively

To ensure evidence and information are gathered effectively, the first step is to devise a method of keeping a record. Create a simple log consisting of at least the following categories:
  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Source
  • Source address, telephone number, email address
  • Number plate and description, if applicable
  • Description, information, statement, etc.
  • Tangible evidence collected, including its position and condition
  • Disposition of tangible evidence
This type of record can help to document telephone harassment, missing household items, suspicious traffic in your neighbourhood, or similar complaints. If you intend to be thorough, you’ll log your unsuccessful efforts to gather new information, as well as your effective strategies.

The log itself becomes a piece of evidence. Your notes, in the form of a log, become a chronological record of your investigation and the suspicious events that led to it.

Evidence comes in many forms. It can consist of the statements of individuals who have direct knowledge of the problem that concerns you. It may include mere rumours and gossip, as well as background research and witness statements. All of it should be recorded in your log.

You may also obtain evidence in the form of records and documents, such as call detail lists, credit card transaction statements, photographs, letters, court documents, recordings, and sales receipts. The location and condition of each item, and how you obtained it, should be described completely in your log. It can prove useful to photograph the item in the place where you find it, before it’s disturbed. The photograph then also becomes a piece of evidence and should be accurately labeled with the date, time, location, and photographer’s name.

You will, of course, want to secure any items of physical evidence in a container or envelope labeled with the collection date, location, and your name. The container or envelope should be sealed only if the evidence is completely dry.

Special Handling

Certain kinds of evidence may require special handling to preserve their integrity and value as forms of proof. It’s extremely easy to destroy delicate evidence such as fingerprints, email, digital photographs, other types of electronic data, or substances to be analysed for DNA. You should handle such evidence as little as possible, if at all. The advice or assistance of a forensic expert will probably be necessary. In some cases, you may need the assistance of a solicitor to obtain a preservation order to prevent the deletion of digital evidence that you know exists but are unable to access on your own.

Weapons can harbour several types of evidence simultaneously, in addition to presenting an inherent danger to you and to others. There is almost no other way to ensure the proper collection of a weapon as evidence of wrongdoing than by turning it over to the police. The same is true for chemicals used in the manufacture of illegal explosives and drugs, even small quantities of which can be catastrophically harmful. The safe thing to do with weapons or chemical evidence is contact an expert official.

If you are careful and systematic in your collection of information and evidence, you’ll help to establish that you are a reasonable person and that you acted in good faith. The process of logging your investigative efforts will allow you to reassess your conclusions as new information comes to light. Patterns may appear that might otherwise have gone undetected. Most important, when the time comes to do something with your evidence, you’ll have the necessary documentation to support any accusations, and it will be much less likely for your concerns to be disregarded.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
spike - Your Question:
How do I get the proper evidence to show non receipt of my share of profits from a rental property?

Our Response:
What information do you have? If you have records of all the rental payments and expenses plus any payments made to you, would this not be sufficient?
DIYSpy - 6-May-16 @ 2:27 PM
how do I get the proper evidence to show non receipt of my share of profits from a rental property?
spike - 5-May-16 @ 6:16 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Bilaljaved
    Re: Spotting Student Plagiarism
    I checked the plagiarism initially and it was 48%, I managed to reduce it to 18%. when uploaded on university blackboard. Later,…
    9 April 2021
  • Grape
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I’m a 13 year old boy from the UK I have been interested in MI6 for a while now I am a shy individual that has not many friends making me a perfect…
    21 October 2020
  • Lucifer
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I wanna join you, , , iam a killing machine and willing to die in the battle field
    28 June 2020
  • Apola
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I certainly thought this would have at least any older people to leave a comment, but all I see is preteens being desperate to be an agent. Just…
    23 May 2020
  • riama
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I'm a 12 year old girl and have always been interested in joining SIS/MI6. I would like to find out what the GCSE requirements are so I can work…
    29 April 2020
  • Blinkers
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Joined the Cyprus army at the age of 18, i may bot be the smartest person in the room but my i can be very street smart. i feel like i could be at…
    24 April 2020
  • Dead
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I want to join MI6 please fams, don't have ID though.. Immortal on a good day, 5ft 500pounds speaks dog language, i have some people ide like to…
    4 February 2020
  • Fruits
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Hi im a 12 year old girl and i am really interested in MI6, Ive always wanted to join and be a spy doing secret missions.The thing that inspired me…
    27 December 2019
  • TomCallan
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Y’all aren’t the most perceptive people are you? First things first, you need to be at least 17 and a half to apply and have full British…
    22 September 2019
  • healer
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Hi Im healer and please take me I will do all the missions and I will always follow the orders please take me Thank you!
    11 August 2019