What methods do private investigators use?

Private investigators are specially skilled in acquiring the information needed to help solve a case or prove evidence of wrongdoing. Hiring a private investigator or employing the services of an investigative agency can often give rise to questions such as how a private investigator can gain the required information, especially in an industry that is currently not regulated by the UK government. 

Not only do you want to be sure that any investigation is done legally and all evidence collected is court-admissible (the gold standard) you may also have concerns about not only the ethics of gathering personal information, but also the practices and lengths to which a private investigator may go to. 

It is important to understand the methods private investigators can and may use during the course of their investigation. With modern advances in technology, there are now innovative ways for a private detective to conduct investigations discreetly and legally, whilst keeping to a moral and ethical code of conduct.                                                           

This can help manage your expectation as a client, and despite not being a regulated industry, private investigators are still bound by 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. 

So, what methods do private investigators use to help with cases?

Electronic Surveillance

A good private investigator will usually have available the latest in innovative technology to be able to survey and monitor a range of media. With permission, they can legally access video and audio recordings, corporate phone call records and computer activity to find out information relevant to your case. This can be helpful to protect your property, stalking and monitoring your employee’s activity in case of theft, absence, or corporate espionage.  

Mobile and Static Surveillance

If you have hired a private investigator because you suspect someone is up to no good, private investigators will often covertly follow or monitor a person of interest by car, on foot or even abroad should the investigation highlight this is needed. This must be done from public property and must not infringe upon a person’s right to freedom and must not harass or intimidate them. With a good private investigator, the person of interest will never know they are under surveillance and why you should always make sure your private investigator has the required discretion and skills to carry out operations like these. 

If it is a partner you suspect of cheating or a client on the run with overdue payments for example, private investigators will employ the use of powerful cameras and plain sight work so that they can provide you with a full report of their movements combined with photographic and video evidence. 

Static surveillance is when private investigators will covertly monitor a particular location of interest. This may be a house, a company or a car park and may require constant, 24hour monitoring or just at specific times, however, the benefit of this methodology is the ability for a private investigator to provide a full report of the location in question, including photos, videos, vehicle details and timings. This can give you actionable evidence and is particularly useful for proving subletting, fly-tipping, the breaking of custody arrangements and benefit fraud.  

GPS Tracking

Private investigators are legally allowed to track vehicles using state of the art GPS tracking devices if the owner of a vehicle, or fleet of vehicles, has consented to the tracking of those vehicles using GPS technology. This allows Private Investigators to gather data and evidence in cases of suspected vehicle misuse, moonlighting, and corporate sabotage.  

Background Checks

A thorough background check is often key to an investigation. Private Investigators can access all public records, including criminal records and unsealed court documents, as well as access databases that may not be accessible to the public. While private documents, including credit reports, can only be viewed with the express permission of the owner, public documents and records will often provide the necessary information to enable a private investigator to conduct a thorough background check, and can even help identify the location of an individual during missing person investigations. 

Technological forensics

If it is necessary and under certain circumstances, private investigators can carry out mobile phone and computer forensics to recover deleted information. This is particularly useful in cases where fraud and corporate espionage is suspected. 

Monitoring of computers and phones is a tool that is also used to ascertain the activity of a person in a workplace, if the owner or company authorises a private investigator to do so. 

Counter Surveillance

If you believe you are being targeted, either personally or professionally, private investigators will often employ the use of counter surveillance techniques and technologies such as blockers and electronic sweeps of a building to detect the use of unlawful bugging and recording devices. 

Which method will apply to my case?

All investigations require information, however, which methods a private investigator may employ during the course of your investigation is entirely based on the type of case and the individuals involved. 

A competent private investigator will take steps to understand how they can help you achieve a positive outcome and know which of the above methodology will best apply to your situation. They may decide a combination of methods will supply the best chance at getting the information or evidence required and they may discuss this with you beforehand. 

Every case is different, which means a private investigator must be willing to adapt to the circumstances and operate within the law at all times. 

Remember, if a private investigator is willing to go further than the methods outlined above and is willing to break the law in pursuit of your investigation and getting the outcome you want, then please, do not hire them. Not only are you legally complicit with breaking the law, you will hurt your chances of a satisfactory resolution. If at any point a private investigator offers to break the law through the duration of your case then it needs to be reported to both the police and any organisation they are associated with.  

Always make sure any private investigator you employ the services of, are clear and upfront with how they are going to help you. If you have concerns, look for a private investigator with the membership badge of the Association of British Investigators (ABI), or something similar, such as The UK Professional Investigators Network (UKPIN), Institute of Professional Investigators (IPI) or World Association of Professional Investigators (WAPI).

The ABI was formed to give accountability in the security profession due to the lack of any official regulation. Because of the damage being done to the security industry by rogue traders, they put together their own voluntary code of ethics and standards and encouraged reputable companies and investigators to sign up. Being a member of the organisation is now seen as a badge of quality, as all members must be thoroughly vetted and continually adhere to their code of ethics to stay registered.  

What OpSec Solutions can offer you

We understand that the trust factor is invaluable when it comes to private investigations, especially in personal matters. You do not want to part with your hard earned cash for a private investigation, only to become involved with illegalities or end up with zero court-admissible evidence due to the methods used in obtaining it. 

With over 10 years of experience, OpSec Solutions have earned full accreditations from the Association of British Investigators, the Institute of Professional Investigators, and the U.K Professional Investigators Network. This means that, when employing any of the services provided by OpSec Solutions, you have peace of mind that these experts will find the truth and any private investigative services, methods and techniques are carried out ethically, legally and with full confidentiality.  

As private investigators must collect information regarding the identification of a person, they are also required to be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure adherence with data protection laws. The team at OpSec Solutions consistently meet the highest standard for registration and take the guidelines around obtaining information and the subsequent storage extremely seriously; this helps protect the business, the client and any evidence collected.  

At OpSec Solutions, we understand what it takes to get to the bottom of your case and provide you with the evidence you need. With experience, training, and skills on our side, we are highly respected within the industry. If you have any questions about the code of ethics we follow, your data or how we conduct investigations whilst staying compliant with all current data protection laws, we are always happy to talk. 

So, if you want to know more about the private investigator services we provide, our methodology, state-of-the-art technology, and how we could help you, then please contact us today using our contact form on the website or call us on 0844-664-1125

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