The decision to hire a Private Investigator may seem straightforward. You have a specific issue, query, or suspicion, and you need to secure information or evidence. It makes sense, therefore, to engage the services of a professional who is skilled in that area. Just as a wiring problem in your home calls for the hiring of a professional electrician, so an investigative problem calls for the hiring of a professional investigator.
A similar level of due diligence is also required. You wouldn’t hire a random stranger from the internet to come into your home and carry out essential maintenance work, so you shouldn’t hire a random stranger from the internet to come into your life and carry out investigations. This is particularly important because, when engaging the services of a Private Investigator, you are likely to need to share information that is highly sensitive and personal to some degree.
Having confidence in your Private Investigation hire
You need to be confident that the Investigator you are hiring will be focused solely on your best interests, and on getting the desired outcome for your case. Your search for a Private Investigator should certainly involve the internet, but it is vital to look for the right detail in compiling your shortlist of firms to approach. There are five main things to look for in deciding which Private Investigators to initially call:
- Vetting processes
Checking that a Private Investigator has been independently vetted needs to be a core part of your own vetting process. The reason for this is that, in the U.K, the Private Investigation industry is not regulated and there is no official licensing system to provide assurance of professional status. As a result, any inexperienced amateur can set up a Private Investigation business and take your money. The risk in that scenario is that your sensitive situation is negatively impacted by the case being mishandled. In addition, your most personal and private information is made vulnerable to misuse.
The lack of official regulation has led to the industry forming high profile associations and affiliations – in essence, regulating itself. Accreditations from these organisations indicate that the Private Investigator has been through a comprehensive, industry-specific vetting process and has been commended for consistently meeting professionally agreed standards of ethics. Such awarding bodies include the Association of British Investigators (ABI), The Institute of Professional Investigators, and the Professional Investigators Network. Alongside these industry accreditations, Private Investigators should be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. This means that the firm meets the official standards in the handling of private information. This qualification provides the clearest assurance that your personal data is in safe hands.
- Experience level
A viable, reliable, professional Private Investigator should be able to demonstrate their level of experience, with anonymised overviews of past cases indicated on their website, and evidence of training, qualifications, and vocational background available on request. It is common for professional Private Investigation firms to recruit personnel from military, law enforcement, and corporate sectors, which means that these teams combine to create a broad range of experience and well-developed skills.
For the potential client, an important part of examining the experience level of a Private Investigator is establishing and assessing the specialist area of the firm. For example, if the firm in question specialises in cyber security, they may not be the best choice for a missing persons case. Before shortlisting a Private Investigation firm – and certainly before hiring one – it is therefore essential to have a clear understanding of what your case requires, and whether this is something the firm has had success with in the past.
The lack of regulation in the Private Investigation industry has given rise to businesses that act as ‘Facilitators’ in Private Investigation enquiries, without necessarily making this clear to the client. This means that they essentially serve as an ‘agency’ in disguise – taking your case on, before farming it out to a third party that you have not vetted. This makes your information, and the integrity and success of your case highly vulnerable. Such ‘Facilitators’ are sometimes even based overseas, meaning that they have no direct contact with your situation at all. Crucially, this leaves you with no direct line of communication with the organisation dealing with your case and, therefore, no recourse if things go wrong. This can be avoided by insisting on discussing your case directly with the Private Investigator that will be handling it, and by making sure you ask whether any aspect of your case will be outsourced.
Location is also an important factor in hiring a Private Investigator because an operative with local knowledge is more likely to get better results, in a shorter timeframe. This can not only bring about a faster resolution for you as the client but can also keep costs under control. The Private Investigator will incur less travel expenses and will need to spend less time getting to know the area on which the investigation is centred. Many reputable and professional Private Investigation firms cover wide geographical areas by operating from several office bases, utilising locally based personnel. Provided that firm meets all other vetting requirements, this option is preferable to a smaller, single-base firm that needs to send teams across the country.
Commercial operations in the United Kingdom are legally required to have insurance that protects clients against both accidental and intentional misconduct. This should be a fundamental requirement for the vetting of your Private Investigator because it means that you are able to make a claim against the firm if things go wrong. It provides you with a higher level of consumer protection, and breeds confidence in the Private Investigation firm in question.
- Recommendations and testimonials
In today’s digital marketplace, every professional Private Investigation firm should have an online presence – a website that clearly sets out services, skill sets, and success stories. A reputable operation will share anonymised testimonials from satisfied clients, for the purpose of giving a flavour of the way the organisation handles cases. Your research should not end there, however. It is vital that you widen your search to include mention of the Private Investigation firm elsewhere on the internet – seeking out recommendations and reviews on other websites. This will provide a more balanced perspective on your potential hire.
Perhaps the most compelling feedback is from first-hand testimonials, and so it is also important to ask for recommendations from your community, or on social media. Depending on the nature of your case, this can prove tricky – especially in cases involving highly sensitive personal situations. It is sometimes not advisable to make your need for a Private Investigator public knowledge. In those instances, you should choose wisely the people you ask for recommendations, and consider using social media from a new, anonymous account for the purposes of such research.
You can never have too much information
It is, perhaps, counter-intuitive to consider the need for investigating your potential Private Investigator before hiring them, but it is the nature of the work they will undertake on your behalf that makes this such an important process. The right Private Investigator will provide an invaluable service – helping you resolve your issue or enquiry in a way that is timely and discreet. They will be invested in the protection of your best interests and will proceed with the utmost sensitivity. The wrong Private Investigator will not only fail at these basic duties of care, they will also increase your vulnerability to fraud and could potentially do irreparable damage to your case. You can never be too cautious, and you can never have too much information. Indeed, the more information you have about the Private Investigators on your shortlist, the more confident you can be in your final selection.
In the final analysis, it is the having of information that hiring a Private Investigator is all about and, just as you can never have too much information about the firm whose services you engage, so they can never secure too much information in answer to your case. The right Private Investigator will work quickly and carefully to gather and compile all the information you need in the form of court admissible evidence. Whether your case results in legal proceedings or not, this simply means that the information presented to you has met the highest standards of data collection and handling.
How OpSec Solutions meets your requirements
OpSec Solutions is a fully accredited, Information Commissioner’s Office registered, local Private Investigator, with national coverage. This means the firm has earned full affiliation with the Association of British Investigators, the Institute of Professional Investigators, and the Professional Investigators Network, and consistently demonstrates that the ethical and honest handling of private data is the highest priority. It also means that, with offices in Manchester, Cheshire, and London and operatives based throughout the U.K, OpSec is able to respond quickly to cases, and with in-depth local knowledge.
Drawing personnel from law enforcement, military and corporate backgrounds, OpSec Solutions can provide a team that has a wealth of experience in all forms of Private Investigation. For this reason, the firm is able to provide extensive and comprehensive services in every type of surveillance, risk management, close protection, and the tracing of people. With a commitment to customer service and methods that meet the highest standards in ethics, discretion, and the rule of law, OpSec Solutions is the very best option for your Private Investigation needs in Manchester, Cheshire and London. Call today to discuss your case.