There has been an increase in the hire of private investigators and tracing agents across the UK. This means that there has been some confusion whether evidence collected during a private investigation is admissible in court. The answer is yes, if all the evidence has been collected legally.
Private detectives can conduct investigations for a wide range of reasons and more importantly, provide you with evidence and statements that can be used for general purposes, such as in a workplace investigation for example, or evidence that can be admissible in court.
This court-admissible evidence is considered the gold standard for private investigators and what any good private detective will aim for, especially for cases that involve fraud, divorce, child protection and breaches of corporate security.
Despite not being a regulated industry, private investigators are still bound by all UK laws and legislation, which include but are not limited to, The Human Rights Act 1998, The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and the updated Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and more recently the Data Protection Act which governs the handling and use of personal and sensitive data.
This means that any investigation carried out on your behalf, needs to be conducted fully in line with the law, so that any evidence collected during the course of an investigation is court admissible. Although the law is clear about what private investigators can and cannot do, please see our blog post What can a private investigator do legally in the UK? if you need clarity on what methodology your private detectives UK may use, you may be concerned about the ethics of gathering personal information or carrying out surveillance, especially on a loved one or an employee.
With modern advances in technology, there are now innovative ways for a private detective to carry out investigations discreetly and legally, whilst keeping to a moral and ethical code of conduct. All evidence collected should meet the legal standard, but you should always consider a private investigator that also has an ethical code of conduct as part of their policy. For example, here at OpSec Solutions we aim to provide you with complete transparency, confidence, and peace of mind about our methods and how our evidence is collected. That is why we follow a strict code of ethics set by the Association of British Investigators.
The code, comprising Ten Principles, is sponsored by the Governing Council of the Association of British Investigators (ABI). It reflects the way in which we should conduct our business according to rigorous ethical, fair, professional, and legal standards. We believe that all security companies and private investigators should hold themselves accountable and be honest and transparent with how they conduct their business, and we pride ourselves on being all the above.
Principle 1 – Responsibility and Accountability
We are personally responsible and accountable for our actions or omissions, as are our employees and other persons paid to assist an investigation. We will always ensure that the latter adhere to this Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.
Principle 2 – Honesty and Integrity
We strive to act with honesty, integrity and not compromise our position or that of any of our clients.
Principle 3 – Caution and Thoroughness
We will always verify the credentials of clients to ensure that they have lawful and moral reasons to request an investigation.
Principle 4 – Conflict of Interest
Any time we have a personal or conflicting interest in any matter in which we are involved, we shall disclose that interest, if it conflicts with the interests of our clients.
Principle 5 – Acting within the Law
We will always obey the law and refrain from carrying out any act that we know is unlawful, or contrary to this policy.
Principle 6 – Authority, Respect and Courtesy
We will never abuse our position and will respect the rights of all individuals. Our team will always act with self-control and tolerance, treating everyone with whom they come into contact, during the course of their activities, with respect, fairness, and courtesy.
Principle 7 – Equality
We act with fairness and impartiality. Our team will not discriminate unlawfully on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, disability, age, sexual orientation, property, birth, or other status.
Principle 8 – Confidentiality
We treat information with which we are entrusted during the course of business with respect and access or disclose it only for the purposes for which it is intended; attending to all instructions within the principles of the prevailing privacy legislation and in particular if controlling personal data to be notified with the Information Commissioner.
Principle 9 – General Conduct
We will always act in a professional manner. Our team will not behave in a manner which brings, or is likely to bring, discredit upon any of our clients, or act in a way that undermines or is likely to undermine confidence in any of our clients.
Principle 10 – Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct
Our team is expected to challenge and when appropriate, take action or report breaches of this code and the improper conduct of colleagues.
As evidence can only be used if it has been obtained legally, it is vitally important for you to put your trust in a private investigation firm or hire a private investigator that can get you the results in a legal and ethical manner, whilst conducting themselves and their operation with the highest of standards in order to produce quality, effective results. This is best practice throughout private, personal, corporate, or commercial investigations.
All reports should be clear and concise, with minimum scope for interpretation. All video evidence should be time and date stamped and clearly show any person in question. Any ambiguity can cause evidence to not be accepted by a judge and can hinder, rather than help a case. GPS tracking can be submitted but may not always be used unless it has a direct reference to the circumstances.
Hiring a private investigator can be a difficult experience and we want our clients to be able to trust us and feel comfortable about how we operate. Whether it’s a one-off job or ongoing security or surveillance, you can be rest assured that everything we do is discreet, fully confidential, and all evidence obtained is completely legal. We are private investigators London but have offices based in both London and Manchester which allows us to cover all the UK. We offer a free consultation so get in touch with us today on 08446 641125 and find out how we can help.