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Paying for Investigation

By: Robin Mizell - Updated: 25 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Private Investigation Private

Occasionally you will lack the expertise required to conduct certain types of private investigations. Typically, these cases involve the recovery and preservation of electronic, latent, trace, or biological evidence or complex financial investigations. There are also circumstances in which it makes sense to obtain assistance because of the amount of time an investigation requires. You may simply find the investigative process distasteful. Whatever the reason, there are many alternatives to consider when you want to pay for a private investigation.

The Web

Most private investigators seeking new business have websites. You can begin the process of elimination simply by examining the information on their sites. You should seek an investigator with expertise in the type of research you require. Only the largest investigative agencies have sufficient personnel to cover very many specialities. However, most private investigators have extensive networks of associates skilled in diverse specialties with which they can consult or contract as needed.

One sign of a private investigator that is well connected is the number of professional associations to which the person belongs. In the UK and internationally, some of those organisations are:

  • Association of British Investigators
  • EPIC – Ex Police in Industry and Commerce
  • Institute of Professional Investigators
  • Investigators’ Sector Group
  • Joint Security Industry Council
  • Professional Investigators Network
  • Professional Surveillance Association
  • Scottish Investigators Forum
  • Security Institute
  • ASIS International
  • Council of International Investigators
  • INTELNET – International Intelligence Network
  • World Association of Private Investigators

Licence to Practice

The Private Security Act requires all private investigators to obtain a licence to practice. The Security Industry Authority, an independent agency that reports to the Home Secretary, now manages the licensing and accreditation scheme for all of Great Britain. Ensure the investigator you hire is licensed.

Professional investigators should also be bonded and insured for liability. Contractors are often quick to mention being licensed, bonded, and insured as proof of their reliability. They may also highlight their credentials in specialised areas, such as fraud investigation or industrial security.

Enquire about the investigator’s prior employment. The person may have extensive experience in another profession. Occasionally, this provides a clue to the individual’s capabilities or predisposition.

Check the contractor’s references. Your solicitor may know of the investigator you want to hire or may be able to refer you to another reputable professional.

Get a Contract

Demand a written contract for services including itemised costs and a deadline. Ensure the contractor understands in what format you want the results of the investigation to be reported to you, as well as how you wish to receive the report and any supporting documentation. You will usually be expected to pay in advance a certain percentage of the agreed-upon fee in order to retain the investigator’s services.

Be prepared to explain to the investigator what you want the person to do. The two of you should be able to discuss some options and come to a mutual agreement on the best approach. Giving a contractor free rein can result in misunderstandings and waste valuable time and your money.

Understand that a good investigator is not your personal advocate but a neutral source of factual information and hard evidence. You want to hire someone with whom you can develop a rapport, but too much solicitousness can signal a lack of objectivity and professionalism.

The field of private investigation was unregulated for many years. When the business began to explode, measures were enacted to control it and protect the public from unscrupulous contractors. If you educate yourself and proceed cautiously, you will find many qualified, licensed professionals who can assist you.

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