What Is a Private Investigator And Why Do They Specialise?
A private investigator, a private detective, investigation agent or a private consultant, is someone who is able to hire individuals, institutions or NGOs to undertake private investigative services. Private investigators may work for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. There are some private investigators who specialise in one specific area such as corporate security, intellectual property, investments, fraud prevention, fundraising, healthcare and identity theft etc. Other investigators specialise in different areas including forensic investigation, skip tracing and organised crime.
A private detective agency may employ investigators either full-time or part-time and may also contract their services out. Each private investigators’ contract will detail the level of access they have to a case and/or the services they are able to provide. Full-time investigators are given complete authority to carry out investigations and obtain information and facts that are relevant to their case. Part-time private investigators are given a small period of authorization to access and use a case for a specified period of time. The majority of private detectives will work on a contingency basis where they receive a fixed fee for any successful case they bring to the court. A person wishing to engage the services of a private detective agency must submit a written agreement with the agency whereby they agree to compensate the private detective for their time and any expenses that arise from their successful case.
A vast industry has sprung up in the UK based around private investigators who offer a variety of diverse services. Business and corporate entities have realised that in certain circumstances having external surveillance that is thorough and efficient is vital to the success of their venture. Corporate executives and directors may wish to monitor the progress of project execution and potential acquisition opportunities by rivals. In this regard, it is highly recommended that corporate directors regularly contract professional investigators to carry out discreet corporate investigations and related surveillance. By hiring an investigator or investigators, business owners and executives can rest assured that they are adhering to strict legal and ethical guidelines. Private investigators offer a comprehensive range of surveillance services that include pre-employment screening, employee evaluation, background and criminal record checks, tracking business and personal travel, interviewing witnesses, surveillance of premises and interviewing suspects.
Whilst most investigation agencies are capable of conducting discreet surveillance, some specialize in operations which are more aggressive and require simultaneous reporting and immediate follow-up. For example, the National Crime Agency (NCA) monitors activities in support of their national priorities such as combating organised crime, protecting the public, protecting public sector assets, detecting and preventing the theft of assets and fraud, stopping the commission of offences and the enforcement of justice. To successfully carry out their role, private investigators must have the necessary powers of surveillance and access to relevant information.
It is essential that private investigators adhere to a set of professionally and consistently applied rules and regulations regarding their conduct of work. Most importantly, all investigators must be licensed by the appropriate regulatory body. The Pinkerton detective agency is one of the few investigative agencies in the UK that are consistently licensed. The Pinkerton detective agency is recognized as an expert in crime and surveillance by the Association of Private Investigators (IPI) and receives a full endorsement for its approach and methods from this prestigious association.
The Pinkerton detective agency is also recognized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is regularly invited to participate in training programs, providing valuable input and advice to industry participants, law enforcement and the general public. IPI actively supports other investigators and similar organizations in the UK and USA, including the Association of Private Investigators (API). Over the past 10 years, the FBI has worked closely with the Pinkerton detective agency and the requirement for training and continuing education of private investigators has been high.
The requirements for license renewal are stringent in the UK and USA and can take up to two years to be completed. Private investigators must complete a two-year certification course in criminal behavior or investigation. This course is structured to provide an overview of the nature of the work and a detailed introduction to the regulatory framework governing investigation and surveillance. In addition to passing the examination administered by the GIA, applicants must also pass the GIA’s written final examination.
Today, private investigators have a number of different types of surveillance equipment at their disposal. Some of these tools include surveillance equipment and detection devices, computer-based surveillance systems, communication monitoring equipment and data loggers. As technological advances allow for a greater number of tools to be accessed simultaneously and in increasing numbers, investigators have been able to develop innovative techniques in locating people, in tracking vehicles, and in performing background checks. This work is integral to ensuring the security and well being of society at large.