REGULATION OF THE PRIVATE
England and Wales
There is currently no requirement for a private investigator to
be licensed and you can trade unrestricted anywhere in England
In 2001 the Private Security Industry Act was enacted which
regulated the licensing of private investigators. The
of this act was passed to the Security Industry Authority (SIA)
that was tasked with bringing in the licensing regime. However,
with the latest government cutbacks, the SIA is to be disbanded
and no alternate authority has been formed to supersede it.
Licensing is not now anticipated, for least, several years to
come, if at all.
Should licensing ever come into force in the future the best way
to ensure obtaining a license is to be a trained and trading as
a private investigator. The best way to do both is with the
Scotland and Ireland
At present, no regulation of the private
investigation industry is in effect. However, the Private
Security Industry Act 2001 governing England and Wales is being
considered as a model for legislation in Scotland.
Regulation of the a private investigation industry varies
dramatically throughout the world, from not being allowed to
trade at all and risking a prison sentence by doing so, to no
regulation at all. Therefore,
it is imperative that you ascertain your legal position for the
country in which you want to act as a private investigator
before you trade.
Definition of Licensable Activity
It is interesting to note that the
Private Security Industry Act 2001 defined licensable activities
requiring a license as:
person engaged in surveillance, inquiries or investigations for
the purpose of obtaining information about a person(s)
activities or whereabouts, or the circumstances by which
property has been lost or damaged will need to be licensed."
“Surveillance” includes covertly
listening to or recording conversations or other sounds and any
method of covertly obtaining information.
Interestingly, it does not cover the activities of a Process
Server in the normal course of his work.