arrow2019 Guide to Private Investigator Costs

At Insight Investigations one of our most frequently asked questions is ‘How much will a Private Investigator cost’ as quite naturally everyone wants to know how much a typical investigation will cost.

Of course, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ investigation, much as there is no ’typical’ car on the roads today. Every investigation is unique and whilst many of the techniques and process we would undertake are similar, every case is different.

To try and help though we have recently undertaken a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise across a number of Private Investigator and Detective companies throughout the UK and we are now able to bring you a guide to current typical Investigator prices.

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Private Investigator fees can vary dramatically so it is worth shopping around to find a company that you trust, not necessarily the cheapest quote you get. Remember that you are paying for time and experience and often an experienced investigator will charge more per hour but get the job done in less time. Also be aware of an “extra” fees such as mileage and on job expenses. At Insight our Private Investigator fees are in most circumstances fully inclusive.

  • Surveillance fees are typically from £55 per hour although they can range up to the extreme of £150 per hour.
  • Tracing people will typically cost around £150 to £350
  • Background Checks are usually £55-£95 per hour, depending on the complexity.
  • RTA and Incident Plans are typically around £200

Here’s the full list of prices:

Private Investigator Price List

You should be aware that the following figures are simply guidelines as to what you might expect to pay when engaging a Private Investigator and every firm and every case will be different. All the first companies we spoke to were happy to provide fees estimates upfront, so don’t forget to ask for this when you call.

Surveillancefrom £55 per hour
Surveillance fees vary dependent upon the complexity and location of an investigation, together with the quality of Agency you employ, in some circumstances, it will require a two (or more) person team, depending on what type of surveillance is required.
Most professional firms will assign a dedicated case manager who will be able to advise you on the most cost-effective solution to bring an investigation to its best possible result, using technology as well as manpower to gather the evidence you need.
Typical surveillance rates start from £55 per hour with a number of firms having a minimum number of hours (typically 4-6) as it is generally unlikely that they will be able to collect the evidence in less time than that, together with the fact that there is a certain about of pre-operations planning required.
For that fee you should expect to receive a written report and photographic or video footage where applicable or logistically legally possible to confirm the work has been undertaken and to demonstrate to you the outcome. On top of this, you may have to pay mileage expenses and some other minor disbursements.
In most circumstances, Insight Investigations quote fees inclusive of all mileage and minor disbursements, plus all client liaison and reporting, this is an important factor is assessing the total cost of a case.Read more
Tracing Enquiriesfrom £150
Tracing people can be a straightforward affair or at times an immensely complex process. If you are looking for someone with whom you have lost contact then you might expect to pay less than if you are trying to trace someone who has ‘disappeared’ as they don’t want to be found.
Prices will also vary considerably depending on whether the person you are trying to trace is in the UK or abroad; generally speaking the further away they are the more expensive it becomes.
Most firms will operate on a fixed fee for relatively simple cases and prices can start from £150 although nearly all firms will refuse to carry out a ‘no trace no fee’ service as they need to be paid for the time they invest in the case. Insight Investigations are not skip tracers, who just look at a few databases that are available with little further effort, we invest considerable time in investigating around the standard resources available.Read more
Process ServingFrom £85 Fixed
There are a great many process servers across the country and most firms operate on a fixed fee basis for this work. Of the firms we reviewed, most tried to service papers up to three times and included travel, report preparation and phone calls all within the cost.
Typical prices can range but for those firms offering the services we described here they were typically £85 -£150 although there was an additional cost for the preparation of and attending to swear, Affidavit of Service, or Statement of Service. In most cases, papers would be served within five days and many firms operated a national service although some of the cheaper ones only covered certain local geography.
For Process Service upon a Limited Company we found most firms offer a fixed fee service of between £85-£125 (plus a swear fee) and if it was service on an individual such as statutory demand or bankruptcy petition then prices ranged from £90-£150.
Firms also offered a more ‘urgent’ service but typically this was at their prevailing hourly rate plus expenses so if you have the urgent need to serve papers on someone the same or next day then expect to pay more. Prices started from £125. The latest legal services commission fees are usually adhered to by most firms, being able to break charges down into time and mileage.Read more
Background ChecksFrom £55 Per Hour
Carrying out professional background checks is becoming more important these days and many firms and individuals find the need to do this to protect themselves against future issues.
Straightforward checks on Companies and services such as asset tracing generally started at £200 and went upwards from there depending on the size and complexity of the task.Read more
RTA and Incident plans£160 – £220 Fixed
Many investigators will offer to provide Scene of Incident sketch plans and photographs which can then be used in a court case. Typically firms included;
Attending at the scene, sketches of Locus, measurements of Locus, photographs of Locus and development and report preparation. Some but not all firms also included attending to obtain detailed handwritten statements from witnesses, section 9 or CJA, assessment of witness for Court attendance suitability, typing of hand written statement and report preparation.Typical fees for all of this ranged from £160-£220 with most firm also charging mileage and expenses on top of this.Read more
GPS TrackingFrom £300 – £800 Fixed
There are several devices that can be deployed dependent upon circumstances and legalities and any competent firm will be able to advise on this for you. Those we spoke to typically had two rates, one for historical tracking and the other for live tracking.
Prices for these vary from £200-£300 for historical tracking and £500-£750 for live tracking although all firms were at pains to point out that these prices were a starting point only and fees would go up the longer the time required to complete the job.
Other Private Investigator Service FeesFrom £55 Per Hour
Of course, there are many other services provided by Private Investigators and each of them has different charges for those services.
Typically, we found that you got what you paid for and those charging a higher fee were often members of professional bodies, had many years of experience and could provide us with case studies of previous jobs they had undertaken. Most reputable investigators will only quote for assignments that can be completed legally within the UK.
Other services included:
Court Attendance, Infringement of Patent & Copyright, Investigation into Internal Theft and Pilfering, Commercial Intelligence, Due Diligence Reports, Hire of Electronic Equipment, Professional Witnesses, Insurance Fraud Investigations, Competitor Profiling, Electronic Surveillance, De-Bugging, Employee Absenteeism, Vehicle/Equipment Repossessions, Covert CCTV and Polygraph Testing.
Naturally, prices for all of these services varied dramatically but in every case, there was an element of hourly rate built into the charging structure mainly in the range of £55 to £95 per hour.Read more

Private Detective Costs

The cost of hiring a private investigator or team of investigators can be expensive if you do not choose to work with the right investigation agency first time. We know that many agencies will provide you with a quote that actually turns out Private Investigator Costs to be a basic price with added costs being incurred throughout your investigation along the way.

Here at Insight, our priorities are plain and simple when it comes to providing you with a price, we will give you a fully inclusive price that is based upon the nature of your enquiry. Our fees include all mileage, all client reporting, client liaison, any photographic or video footage we obtain during the course of the investigations.

We believe in giving you value for money from the first time you contact us. Each investigation is different, even if the principles are the same. Choosing the right course of action to take, should be straightforward, after discussion with us, as we will give you our many years of knowledge and experience on how to resolve your case and get to the truth of a problem.
Our fully inclusive pricing includes:

Minor Disbursements [This could be costs of a beverage or similar that is justified by the need for an investigator to be in a bar/ coffee house or similar circumstances. This would not include the scenario of our investigator having to book a 1st class flight to New York on a surveillance enquiry, but it does cover the basics.]
Agent’s travel time [To and from the starting location of the operation]
Mileage [Except in exceptional circumstances]
– Client Reporting [Written or Digital or Verbal]
– Client Liaison [This covers all telephone conversations you may have with us and email correspondence]
– All Set-Up Fees

All of our hourly charges are based on the complexity of an enquiry and the level of investigation required in order to bring your enquiry to a successful conclusion.
Some agencies will quote lower than we do but we would advise that you query any quoted Fee and get it confirmed that the price is indeed all you will be charged, with no ‘hidden’ extras. We will provide you with a fully inclusive price plus VAT.

For further insight into the cost of an investigation please call one of our experienced team who will be able to explain fully the costs.
Tell us your problem and we’ll suggest the solution for it, no matter how complex or sensitive. Call us now on 0800 14 55 123 for a discreet and efficient service.

So, if you are looking to engage a professional detective or investigator to look into a matter for you then generally expect to pay slightly higher prices for the better firms and be sure to ask for professional accreditation and bodies before engaging the company to work for you.

**Prices were obtained in a blind sample during early 2016 and revised early in 2017, 2018 and 2019 however they may be subject to change at any point. All prices will be subject to VAT at the prevailing rate if the firm you use is VAT registered.

Call us on
0800 14 55 123
Free calls from Mobile & Landline numbers for help and advice.