Regulation of Private Investigation

It is a worrying thought that despite all the recent publicity about “rogue” Private detectives, and hacking scandals there is still no will from the Home Office to push through parliament the powers to implement legislation which is already in place. So not one of the hundreds of Private investigation companies in the UK is licenced. There are rules and guidelines, but they are not enforceable unlike the US, Canada and many other countries. So “rogue”, inept or sham investigators can proliferate.

In 2013 the Home Secretary announced the Government’s intention for the Security Industries Authority (SIA) to regulate private investigation activities, this is from laws passed in 2001 which created the SIA.

In December 2014, the Home Office said the Government expected the introduction of the statutory licensing of private Investigation activities to come into force as soon as possible during the next Parliamentary session starting in May 2015. To date nothing as yet been implemented

The SIA continues to work with the Home Office, which has responsibility for introducing the regulation of the private investigation sector.

Who Will Need a Licence?

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. Questions relating to whether specific activities will be licensable in future are therefore subject to Home Office decisions.

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.

At Fox Associates as well as having years of experience in conducting successful investigations, we have all completed and passed the accredited Home Office/SIA approved courses, we comply with data protection laws, and abide by current legislation and our own ethical and moral codes of conduct. When you employ a private detective you should always bare the above in mind and ensure that they abide by these principles.