Regulations can be a power for good
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 in the event of an accident probably outweigh the minor infringements of our civil liberties necessary to achieve these important health and safety breakthroughs, but others may disagree.
Someone to watch over you
I can’t believe anyone would object to the regulation of companies who provide professional services, though. No-one wants to take pot luck when they’re parting with large sums of cash in order to book a holiday, hire a solicitor or have their house rewired. Often, an industry’s regulating body not only offers assurances of quality for those buying from their accredited members, but also provides a route for reclaiming money.
The private investigation industry came under the spotlight following the findings of the Leveson Inquiry and the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee. What’s perhaps the most surprising aspect of the whole sorry mess isn’t that some so-called ‘private investigators’ chose to illegal means to mine confidential information, but that there are as yet no hoops for private investigation companies to jump through before they can set themselves up in business. In short, anyone who wants to call themselves a private investigator or process server, can.
Preparing for an industry shake-up
There are moves afoot to change this – trouble is, they’ve been in the pipeline for a number of years already and no-one seems minded to make them law. The Private Security Industry Act was first mooted in 2001 but still hasn’t been implemented – a situation which looks set to continue till after the next general election.
Which is a shame as the new British Standard BS102000:2013, which is understood to be upon which the proposed business licences for the investigations industry will be based, will make it compulsory for both businesses and the individuals it employs to demonstrate conformance, diligence and accountability and would raise the bar for a profession that has suffered its fair share of slings and arrows recently on account of those companies who are bringing it into disrepute.
At Tremark, we serve court documents, trace debtors, perform background enquiries and pre-sue reports to clients looking for an honest, above-board service that reflects well on the integrity of their business. We’ve nothing to hide, which is why we welcomed the exhaustive checks made by a new US-based client on our operation before engaging us in some investigative work. We think it’s actually something that doesn’t happen often enough, given the unregulated nature of the industry.
Don’t get your fingers burned
There have been a few stories in the news recently involving companies that have hired investigators to carry out surveillance or obtain reports only for it to backfire spectacularly when the PIs in question have been prosecuted for breaching the Data Protection Act, tarnishing the reputation of the client in the process.
Tremark is due to undergo its annual audit by the UKAS accredited auditors SSAIB for our BS102000:2013 certification. We went through the effort of obtaining the certification nearly 11 months ago in anticipation of the introduction of the legislation – truth is, our existing processes were already compliant in this regard. But we know that still only a handful of private investigation and process server companies in the UK who have followed suit which makes it more important than ever for clients to either choose an organisation with a reputation like ours, or be prepared to do their own due diligence, keep their fingers crossed and hope for the best.