Preparing a statement

What is a statement?

When you write a statement, you are writing a document that explains what happened from your perspective. These may include things you saw, what you did and any conversations you may have had. Statements must only contain truthful information, according to your memory and personal experience. You will be asked to sign the statement with the date next to your name. Statements may be used as evidence in court. It can be very difficult to change your statement later on and may make you liable to prosecution if you have included any information that you know is untrue. So it is important to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

Below is some guidance on how to put together a statement, along with examples. The examples are based on a fictitious character, Gabriella, whose ex-boyfriend, Henry, posted an intimate picture of her onto his Facebook page without her consent.

Starting your statement

There is no standard template or form for a witness statement (although the police may provide you with one). Usually, statements start with your full name, address and date of birth.

1. My name is Gabriella Joan Utterson of 16 Starbright Street, Sunnydale, NSW. I was born in 1990 and I am 27 years old.

What information to include

Your statement should only contain things that you saw, heard or did in the order that they occurred. Try to put one fact or idea in each paragraph. Insert dates wherever you can to indicate when the event took place. If you can’t remember the exact date, you can use words like, ‘on or around’.

2. On or around 23 December 2017, I ended my relationship with Henry Jekyll.

When retelling what someone said to you, try to use direct quotes.

3. Henry was angry and upset when I told him I no longer wanted to be together. He said to me, ‘you’ll regret this’ and walked away.

If you can’t remember exactly what someone said to you, but you remember the gist of what was said, you can describe what was said by saying, ‘[Person] said words to the effect’.

4. That evening, I received a phone call from Henry. He said words to the effect: ‘You pretend to be all innocent but you’re not. You’ll be sorry soon.’
5. I did not reply and hung up.
6. On 25 December 2017, while I was having Christmas lunch with my family, my brother told me he saw an intimate image of me on Henry’s Facebook page. I called Henry and said, ‘John told me you’ve posted up a naked photo of me. How could you? Please take it down’.
7. Henry said, ’I’m not by my computer right now, hon. Can’t you take a joke? Where’s your sense of humour?’ He then hung up.

Attaching documents

Wherever possible, when you talk about a document (including emails and texts) in your statement, attach a copy of that document to the end of your statement. These additional documents are called ‘attachments’. The first attachment should be labelled ‘Attachment A’, the second attachment labelled ‘Attachment B’ and so on.

In your statement, you can refer to a document like this:

8. After Henry hung up, I texted him, asking him to remove the image. He replied via text saying, ‘I’ll take it down eventually. Merry Christmas to you too.’ Annexed and marked ‘Attachment A’ are screenshots of our text conversation.

At the end, your entire statement may look something like this:

1. My name is Gabriella Joan Utterson of 16 Starbright Street, Sunnydale, NSW. I was born in 1990 and I am 27 years old.
2. On or around 23 December 2017, I ended my relationship with Henry Jekyll.
3. Henry was angry and upset when I told him I no longer wanted to be together. He said to me, ‘you’ll regret this’ and walked away.
4. That evening, I received a phone call from Henry. He said words to the effect: ‘You pretend to be all innocent but you’re not. You’ll be sorry soon.’
5. I did not reply and hung up.
6. On 25 December 2017, while I was having Christmas lunch with my family, my brother told me he saw an intimate image of me on Henry’s Facebook page. I called Henry and said, ‘John told me you’ve posted up a naked photo of me. How could you? Please take it down’.
7. Henry said, ‘I’m not by my computer right now, hon. Can’t you take a joke? Where’s your sense of humour?’ He then hung up.
8. After Henry hung up, I then texted him, asking him to remove the image. He replied via text saying, ‘I’ll take it down eventually. Merry Christmas to you too.’ Annexed and marked ‘Attachment A’ are screenshots of our text conversation.