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Regulation of Private Investigators


Regulation of Private Investigators

On 31 July 2013 the Home Secretary announced the Government’s intention for the SIA to regulate private investigation activities, starting some time in 2014.

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 defines the licensable activities of private investigations. The Home Office intends to review this definition to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.

According to the Act you will need an SIA licence if you are involved in any surveillance, inquiries or investigations that are carried out for the purposes of:

  • obtaining information about a particular person or about the activities or whereabouts of a particular person; or
  • obtaining information about the circumstances in which, or means by which, property has been lost or damaged.

Anyone involved in providing contracted private investigation services will require a licence. This includes employees, employers, managers, supervisors and directors*or partners of private investigation companies. It is unclear if the Home Office will also wish us to regulate ‘in-house’ private investigations.

*For the purposes of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, “director” means executive and non-executive directors, shadow directors, parent company directors and corporate entities holding a directorship.

According to the Act, the following activities will not require a licence:

  •  activities exclusively for the purposes of market research;
  •  activities exclusively concerned with a credit check;
  •  professional activities of practising solicitors and Barristers;
  •  professional activities of practising accountants;
  • professional activities of journalists and broadcasters, and activities exclusively relating to obtaining information for journalists and broadcasters;
  • activities exclusively relating to reference to registers which are open to the public; registers or records to which a person has a right of access; and published works;
  • activities carried out with the knowledge or consent of the subject of the investigation.

Penalties

The penalty for working as an unlicensed private investigator will be:

  • upon summary conviction at a Magistrate’s Court, Sheriff Court or District Court, a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

The penalty for supplying unlicensed staff will be:

  • upon summary conviction at a Magistrate’s Court, Sheriff Court or District Court, a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.
  • upon conviction on indictment at Crown Court, High Court of Justiciary or Sheriff and jury trial, an unlimited fine and/or up to five years imprisonment

About The Author

Mark Hodgson

Mark Hodgson is the Managing Director of Tremark Associates, one of the UK’s leading providers of investigative services. Mark has 30 years experience in private Investigations and the commercial debt recovery industries. He is Vice President of the Association of British Investigators, a member of the World Association of Detectives, The Institute of Credit Management and an associate member of R3 -The Association of Business Recovery Profession.


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