Again this week has seen many newspaper headlines, TV news coverage and online articles slating both the actions of The News of The World and also Private Investigators who offer and provide unlawful bugging and hacking services. It is easy to get carried away with the fact that it is phone hacking being thrust into the spotlight, however as an Investigation Agency with over 30 years experience in the industry we can tell you first hand that there are legal elements of tracking investigations.
Firstly we would like to make it crystal clear we do not consider the individuals involved in this illegal activity to be Private Investigators, our industry is being unfairly criticised for the actions of a minority of individuals more concerned with making money than conforming to UK Laws and providing genuine services. These individuals are classing themselves as private investigators or in a lot of circumstances they are one man band outfit who would simply class themselves as a private investigator.
As the industry is not licensed or governed like other highly niche and sensitive industries these individuals and companies can continue to trade under the banner of private investigators. Yesterday, The Independent published an article featuring the thoughts of Tony Amossi, President of the Association of British Investigators [ABI], who fully agrees with our opinion these are nothing more than criminals or con men who should not be classed as private investigators. He said “All these services are illegal activities, and we would absolutely 100 percent condemn them. We would not tolerate it from any of our members, and if any of those were linked to our members we would immediately put them through the disciplinary process with a view to expelling them.”
Whilst also describing those responsible as “criminals masquerading as professional investigators”. Also as previously mentioned the fact the industry is not licensed allows such people to carry on trading, the ABI have long called for licensing of the investigation industry, as have most members of the association such as ourselves.
On the issue of licensing Mr Amossi had this to say “If I see something that’s outrageous and blatant, I will tip off the authorities and say there is something not right going on here, something needs to happen, it’s been the policy of my organisation to support regulation, and we’ve been strung on that for the past 10 years and we’ve done everything we possibly could to help.”
It is not only the ABI who are taking the illegal activity and unfair use of the word Private Investigator on those responsible for carrying out these activities, the World Association of Private Investigators [WAPI], are also in agreement with the ABI in that those responsible are damaging the whole sector. WAPI have announced they will be holding a conference to coincide with their AGM and Banquet this year to discuss hacking, blagging, bugging, tracking and of course the law around these services.
Regarding the associations it should be noted that out of a reported 10,000 UK investigators only 5%, including Insight, are associated to either the ABI or WAPI, this means that only members can be vetted, licensing really is the only alternative.
Look out for our next post regarding the legal side to tracking phones, vehicles and computers.