Taking recorded statements that are usable is not as simple as it sounds. As a private investigator I take recorded statements frequently. A national typing service, specializing in transcribing them, told me they like my format and method quite a lot.
I like to follow the KISS principle in everything I do: Keep It Simple, Stupid: Works for me. Applying this idea to recorded statements is easy.
There are many digital recorders on the market but beware of how they save the statements. My expensive Panasonic saves the statement, to my computer, but in a proprietary format. Thus the listener needs Panasonic software or a converter.
My Olympus 3100 saves it as a.wav file and any computer can play it. I put the recording on a CD. It can also be e-mailed as an attachment.
I prefer my Edirol R-09. It is a bit more expensive but the quality cannot be beat.
While an in person statement is the best, that is not always possible.
For telephonic recorded statements I use my PI Audio which I got through PI Magazine. It connects my phone to my computer. One touch recording from the phone to my computer.
Always get permission to record before you turn the recorder on, and then again, just after. I start with the time and date, introduce myself and spell my name. I suggest you have the other person do the same, stating their name, (have them spell it) address, and phone.
Once the introduction is done, begin with a brief statement about the purpose of the interview and then ask an open question: "Please tell me everything you can recall about..." Remember; even truthful people edit what they say.
Once they have completed their open statement you may now ask specific questions to bring out the details that are not clear or areas which they have missed. Always go into the interview prepared. Know the case details and client's objectives. Refrain from asking leading questions, one where the answer is contained in the question. You may have to resort to this method if the subject is uncooperative.
Conclude the interview with the date and time and once again verify, on tape, you had permission to record the statement.
Once I have the statement, I save it to my computer. For delivery of the final product I burn it to a CD using the Light Scribe technology so that it is professionally labeled.