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GDPR provides shake-up for investigation industry

GDPR provides shake-up for investigation industry

The argument for regulation

Some people would argue that we live in an over-regulated society that is less colourful and less diverse than it used to be in the halcyon days when we could drink unpasteurised milk till the cows came home and drive around in our Ford Cortinas unfettered by seatbelts. I’d say that the advantages of not contracting brucellosis or being catapulted through the windscreen of your car probably outweigh the minor infringements of our civil liberties necessary to achieve these important health and safety breakthroughs, but others may disagree.

Twenty-four years ago, I left the regulated legal sector to form Tremark to assist solicitors and debt recovery companies in serving court documents, tracing debtors and finding assets.

I joined an investigation industry that was not regulated at all; you could then and can still now, operate with no insurance, skills, qualifications or experience, and with a criminal record.

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) implemented in March 2000, should have changed the culture for investigators in the private sector yet there continued to be a large element whose primary business model centred on the illegal collection of personal data through deception or *‘blagging’ as it became known.

In 2006 a report **‘What Price Privacy’   published by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) following ‘Operation Motorman’ highlighted, ‘evidence of systematic breaches in personal privacy that amount to an unlawful trade in confidential personal information’ within the private investigation industry leading to urgent calls for the implementation of statutory regulation of the industry. The sector again came under the spotlight following the findings of the Leveson Inquiry and the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee. Yet, despite all this, despite various  ***government announcements that the licensing of private investigators is  imminent, no one it seems is actually minded implement in to law.

I can’t believe anyone would object to the regulation of companies who provide professional services. After all, no-one wants to take pot luck when they’re parting with sums of cash or are about to make a big decision.

What’s perhaps the most surprising aspect of the whole sorry mess isn’t that some so-called ‘private investigators’ continue to break the law to make a quick buck, but that there are still no hoops that anyone has to jump through before they can set themselves up and call themselves a professional ‘Investigation’ business or a ‘Private Investigator’

Hallelujah for GDPR – an industry shake-up!

Solicitors and other investigation clients as data controllers must now ask their Investigators as their data processors to prove their credentials, insurance and GDPR compliance before they instruct. As data processors, Investigators must now inform clients whom exactly they are dealing with and to whom they may sub contract to and share data with. Clients now a have a responsibility to ensure that they are aware how data is to be transferred securely, where it will be transferred to, how long the data will be stored for and be sufficiently assured that all parties involved within the assignment are GDPR compliant prior to providing any instruction.

GDPR has brought about a huge opportunity for professional and responsible investigators within the private sector to rise to the top, and those who attempt to avoid GDPR’s responsibilities undoubtably fail.

Some within our industry have conveniently enjoyed avoiding any regulation for far too long.

The attainment of BS102000:- Code of practice for the provision of investigative services, upon which it is proposed that business licences for the investigations industry will be based upon, provides a further opportunity for professional investigators to raise the bar in terms of demonstrating their conformance, diligence and accountability. The certification requires that the business is independently audited by a UKAS accredited auditor every 12 months over two days and provides would be clients with real evidence of the investigation companies compliance and competence.

At Tremark, we serve court documents, trace debtors, and undertake a variety of investigative tasks for clients looking for an honest, above-board service that reflects well on the integrity of their business. We welcome GDPR.

Get in Touch, We’d love to talk

Please do get in touch with me if you would like to discuss this article more detail or have any questions regarding our service . I can be contacted via email at or alternately please don’t hesitate to call me or one of **** our team on 0845 862 1853. We are always happy talk, swap ideas or offer advice.


‘Independent’ article on blagging by private investigators
** ICO Motorman – What Price Privacy
*** 2013 government announcement ‘regulation of Private Investigators to be introduced’
**** Tremark Investigation team

About The Author

Mark Hodgson is the Managing Director of Tremark Associates, one of the UK’s leading providers of investigative services. Mark formed Tremark aged just 25 in 1995 and has over 30 years experience in private investigations and commercial debt recovery industries. He is a leading figure and a campaigner for regulation of the Industry and past President of the Association of British Investigators, a member of the World Association of Detectives, The Chartered Institute of Credit Management, The Institute of Paralegals and an associate member of R3 -The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Mark splits his time between the Leeds and London Offices. He is a dad of two, a keen runner, cyclist and a Leeds United season ticket holder.