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  • Regulation of Surveillance

    There are few more effective investigative tactics to quickly establish fact or drive investigations forward than targeted covert surveillance. Most would rightly assume (as is the case in almost all other first world countries) such an important function to be tightly regulated, yet this is furthest from the truth. The door is open to anyone without training, competence, experience or qualification to offer private investigation or covert surveillance services in the UK. There is no oversight. This complete lack of accountability provides the space for unscrupulous and unprofessional companies and individuals to operate, preying on the vulnerability of personal clients and hiding within systems designed to keep the commercial/corporate client wholly detached from providers through unnecessary but highly profitable layers of “top-down” administration. The outcome is inevitable, client’s rarely receiving the product they expect (or have paid for), a surveillance product obtained through undetermined means acquired by untrained or poorly trained individuals. Such an important function remains an unprofessional and unaccountable mess. In July 2003 the Home Affairs Committee submitted a white paper to Parliament following the Leveson Inquiry making a number of recommendations, the main being the licencing of Private Investigators through the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Whilst most professional investigation companies acknowledge the need for reform, licencing through the SIA may not prove to be all that is intended. Investigations are not security functions. Surveillance, like forensics, are disciplines in their own right within investigations. In addition, the SIA themselves acknowledged and continue to acknowledge they have neither the appetite, funding nor expertise to regulate Private Investigations and/or private surveillance. In August 2023 the Law Society (partnered with Association of British Investigators) called for voluntary regulation highlighting the many benefits but acknowledged such discretionary professional affiliation could lead to a fragmented industry. The regulation of private sector covert surveillance in our view is little different to the highly regulated surveillance activity in the public sector. The lawful acquisition of private information on any person(s) for a specific purpose remains the same function providing the same product, for that there is already a clearly defined legal framework (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) overseen by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) ensuring proportionality, legality, accountability and necessity providing clear guidance and protection in law. Would it not be of benefit to broaden the remit of the OSC in conjunction with the Information Commissioner’s Office and with it mandatory professional affiliation? Regardless of what shape reform takes we should all agree, the private investigation industry must ensure there is no place for the unscrupulous to continue to defraud and deceive clients.

  • Surveillance training and opportunities

    Thank you to all those who have contacted us regarding our previous post (Surveillance, £250 p/d, no skills or experience required). Whilst the post actually reflects a lack of regulation, training and professional accountability, the sheer volume of enquiries asking for help and advice in pursuing a career in the private surveillance industry has been immense (continues to fill our inbox) and couldn't be ignored. To those we have not personally responded to, please accept our apologies we hope the following helps. Invest in your future with the best training At present there is no recognised minimum standard and surveillance courses delivered in the private sector vary considerably in content. Look for a recognised awarding body and training delivered by reputable experienced companies. *****Reputable surveillance training companies please stand up***** Be aware, the "Attended a course" is not seen by many as a qualification. The fact that you turned up does not mean you have attained any skills or knowledge. Having passed a course look to join a professional body such as the Association of British Investigators (ABI) or Institute of Professional Investigators (IPI), there are others. Surveillance is a perishable skillset and our advice is to get the skills you've learned into practice as soon as you can. Professional affiliation can help in matching your skills to work. To the hundreds of CP personnel that have responded (what is happening in the CP world?!). Yes, many of the skills are transferable (situational awareness, route planning, map reading, risk assessment etc) but a day's input on counter surveillance obviously does not mean you are trained in any form of surveillance. Again, find a reputable training provider who can deliver a course that equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge. Surveillance training providers please feel free to advertise or signpost training opportunities from here.

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