The Police Officer's Notes

In order for the police officer to use his notes on the stand, the Crown must establish that the notes were taken around the time of the incident and have not been altered since then. The notes can only be used to refresh the officer's memory. He cannot rely solely on his notes. He must have an independent recollection of the facts.

Crown's Questions About the Officer's Notes

Here is an example of a typical set of questions the prosecutor will ask the officer.

Q.  Officer, are you a member of the Police?

A.  Yes I am.

Q.  How long have you been a member?

A.  Twelve years.

Q.  Were you on duty on the day in question?

A.  Yes, I was.

Q.  Were you required to keep notes in relation to this matter?

A.  Yes, I was.

Q.  When did you take your notes?

A.  They were taken immediately after the event.

Q.  How did you take them?

A.  They were written in black ink in my duty notebook.

Q.  Any additions, deletions, or alterations to your notes since that time?

A.  No there have not been.

Q.  Do you have any recollection of the events?

A.  Yes I do.

Q.  For which purpose do you require your notes today?

A.  Just to remind myself on specific detail.

Q.  Thank you.  You have all the notes that pertain to this matter with you today?

A.  Yes I do.

The justice will then ask you if you have any issues with the notes. If you do not, then the court will allow the officer to use his notes to refresh his memory.


What goes around comes around. If this site is helping you, please consider giving something back.

Were the Notes Disclosed?

You should have requested a copy of these notes through disclosure. Even if you did not specifically request them, they should have been provided to you. If you don't have a copy, object to the use of the notes on the grounds that it is material that you should have had in advance in order to prepare your defence. The use of this material by the Crown's witness is unfair to you.

You should also be aware that the officer's notes are not technically evidence. They are only his notes. The prosecutor cannot use just the notes to convict you. She requires the witness testimony of the officer on the stand.

Independent Recollection

A good technique to challenge the officer's recollection of the facts is to ask a series of questions to test the officer's memory. They should cover topics that are not part of his notes:

For example, the officer will likely have noted the make, color and number of doors of your vehicle. But he would not have noted how many passengers were in the vehicle or what you were wearing. If he remembers stopping you, independent of his notes, then surely he should have a recollection of these simple facts. Don't worry, he won't. But you can use this to your advantage by discrediting his testimony:

Q.   Officer you seem to remember only what you wrote down and nothing else. There doesn't appear to be any independent recollection, you are just reading your notes out loud. Do you really remember the events of that day?

previous pagenext page