Procedural matters: risk management: use of notebooks in SI
From 1 July 2014, all SI teams (with the exception of the RFTU) must cease using Departmental Notebook ENF 100A and Departmental Daybook ENF 102.
The purpose of maintaining notebooks is to record evidence of what is seen, found, heard or done during the course of an enquiry. Caseworkers should expect to provide witness statements and give evidence in review, appeal, tribunal or court cases based upon material recorded in a notebook.
Notebooks are original notes of evidence. They must always be completed in as full, detailed and accurate a manner as possible; not only is this important evidentially, but it also enables officers to give a professional presentation in review, tribunal and court cases.
The policy relating to use of the notebooks by caseworkers is the responsibility of the Compliance Operational Policy & Guidance Unit (COPGU).
In March 2014, COPGU refreshed its guidance relating to recording notes of meetings and compliance checks. The guidance ensured that all staff were recording notes to a suitably high evidential standard and that this was done consistently. Within this guidance, COPGU reiterated its policy on the use of ENF100A notebooks and ENF102 daybooks, namely that they only be used by staff undertaking a criminal investigation.
Following feedback from the business, representatives of SI Governance & Performance and SI business recently discussed the situation with COPGU to clarify the type of notebooks used by teams with SI. Additionally the SI Director also held talks with COPGU on the subject.
COPGU reiterated their position that neither of the announcements relating to the ENF100A or ENF102 reflected a change in policy. This has long been the policy of Criminal & Enforcement Policy (CEP) and COPGU (as well as Investigation & Civil Enforcement Policy before it moved into COPGU). However, it has recently become apparent that this policy was not communicated clearly across all relevant staff at the time. COPGU guidance clearly explains the requirements SI staff must follow.
It is important that our customers understand the nature of our compliance checks, be it a civil compliance or a criminal investigation check. Their rights are different depending on the powers that we are using. If staff undertaking a civil compliance check use a notebook similar to that used by criminal investigators or the police, then the customer may believe that we are conducting a criminal investigation when we are not.
If a customer thought that they were under criminal investigation, they may say or act differently than they would if they understood we were carrying out a civil compliance check. As well as this being unfair to our customers, this may have an adverse effect on HMRC at Tribunals.
As HMRC increases the number of cases within its volume crime initiative and its joint operations with other Law Enforcement Agencies, it becomes increasingly important that our staff do not blur the lines between criminal and civil interventions. The use of the correct notebook is a simple way to ensure clear, blue water.
The ENF100A is a security document. This means that its use and storage is tightly controlled. In open plan offices containing a number of different business units, it is more difficult to control. The SI and CI Data Guardians have confirmed that the COPGU policy on the use of ENF100A is correct.
Type of notebook
Caseworkers must not use a notebook containing more than 100 pages. The 96-page Banner A4 hardback notebook is recommended to record compliance activity. The stationery code for this item is 910 0015 and can be ordered via the green stationery route. This notebook has replaced the one recommended in the current guidance, which will soon be amended accordingly.
Reducing potential for losing customer information
The guidance explains how to reduce the data security risks of notebooks including that caseworkers must withdraw notebooks from use one year after the date of the first entry.
Officers working in the RFTU teams are authorised officers (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) . They are NOT affected by this new guidance and should continue to use ENF 100A during the course of their duties.
- COG11760 explains how to record and manage the issue of notebooks
- COG11780 explains how to complete notebooks