A private investigator, private detective or investigation agent, is someone who can be employed by people, institutions or NGOs to undertake investigative services. Private investigators can work for lawyers in criminal and civil cases. They can also work as private investigators, private detectives or investigation agents for other professionals, such as financial planners and accountants etc. Private investigators can work on short term assignments of a few days or weeks at a time. Some private investigators specialise in different areas of investigation such as corporate security, alternative investments, fraud, civil litigation, human resource security etc. There are many different types of investigations that private investigators can undertake.
One of the most common ways in which private investigators provide investigative services is through background checks. Background checks can be provided for any person who wishes to hire an investigator. When a person applies for a job with a public firm such as a business or charity, they will be required to provide details of their background to insure that they are not a criminal. This information is then stored in the investigative agency’s database and when a new hire needs to be added to the database, an inquiry will be carried out to check for criminal records.
Another type of service provided by private investigators is surveillance. This means that they can set up video cameras to monitor a room or property, or they can secretly install tracking devices. In the past, private investigators were responsible for carrying out these types of surveillance, however the arrival of ‘cell phone cameras’ and GPS technology has meant that this can now be carried out by anyone without the need for permission. The effect of this is that surveillance can often occur without a real legal basis. It is important that private investigators only carry out surveillance if there is a valid law enforcement reason.
Many private investigators specialize in taking pictures and videos using digital cameras. They have developed skills in documenting anything that is suspicious or appears suspicious. Many times a social media website will allow a member to post pictures or videos of an event without the user’s knowledge, however this can often be considered defamatory behaviour and a private eye may need to take photos or videos to establish exactly what was posted.
Video surveillance can also be used by private investigators to investigate crimes that may occur at work or at school. For example, armed robbers have been caught on camera apparently robbing a bank. However, these particular images have not been able to be used in court due to the fact that they weren’t taken by a licensed private investigator. Private investigators who specialise in digital video surveillance can take images from any location and with any camera or digital camera that is suitable.
It is important that before a private investigator is hired, details of their past investigations are discussed. This is because although some private investigators may have experience investigating a particular crime, it is not uncommon for them to have a broad range of skills. For example, it is common for them to be capable of getting information from computer systems, but they may also be capable of taking photos and videos in other ways.
Private detectives do not usually wear police uniforms anymore and many now work independently. However, all investigators must be properly trained and comply with legislation. All investigators must be fingerprinted before being allowed to gather evidence from a crime scene, unless they are permitted to do so under the strictest of circumstances. As well as being properly fingerprinted, private detectives must also undergo extensive training and must be properly qualified in their field.
Private investigators can operate in two different roles; they can work for private law enforcement agencies, or they can work for private individuals. Although there are numerous private investigators in private law enforcement, it is unlikely that any of them will be able to carry out all of the surveillance work that needs to be done. As a result it is very rare for a private investigator to be involved in all aspects of investigations. Private investigators specialise in specific areas such as CCTV, computer forensics, skip tracing, corporate security, risk assessment and investigative surveillance. For more information on how to make an investigation click here.