The minute we hear private investigators, so many characters and scenes flash through our minds. From Sherlock Holmes to Miss Marple, we have all been a fan of fictional private investigators and probably have learned too much about them from books, TV shows, and movies. But how far is that from reality? Do Private investigators around the globe have the same approach? Does a Private Investigator Agency in Sydney follow the same code of professionalism? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out.
First of all, a private investigator is a professional who is hired to carry out investigations. Private investigators, also called private detectives, conduct investigations to find information and people for organizations and individuals. They can conduct various types of investigations like performing financial, legal, or background checks, interviewing people, surveillance, and even searching for people who are missing. This might be relevant to:
- Criminal Act
- Theft of property
- Other fraud cases/ fidelity checks
The detective may be hired by a private person, a business, civil attorneys, etc. Private Investigators can further be categorized based on their specialties like Computer forensic investigators, legal investigators, corporate investigators, civil investigators, etc. They have inquisitive minds, good observational skills, and have become quite popular from the last 2-3 decades. However, the first private investigation agency was founded in 1833! Charles Frederick Field and Justin Hopson are notable names that have set benchmarks in the private investigation world. The benefit of hiring a licensed investigator is that he/she can have access to information that is not generally accessible to common people.
Although every individual has their way of doing things, the essence and approach with which these investigators work remain more or less the same. Usually, investigators around the globe follow the below-highlighted steps for conducting an investigation.
Step 1: Discussion of the case with the client
Undoubtedly, the investigator needs to discuss the case and the requirements with the client. What is the purpose of the investigation? Whether it is legal or not, what kinds of findings are expected, etc. everything needs to be transparent from the client’s side. In return, the private investigator will give the client a fair idea about what he/she can expect, the time required to complete the investigation, and the compensation for the case.
Step 2: Planning the Investigation
The next step is to plan how the investigation proceeds further. What all resources will be necessary, what information will be mandatory, which people need to be involved, etc. everything is planned. The investigator also communicates all these things to the team involved. They discuss the required search warrants. Each and every step they take should be in accordance with laws and legislations. Probably in movies and books, they show everything fast forward and skip the permission seeking part!
However, as and when things start becoming clear in an investigation, the plans might have to be amended as per the requirements since this is not some fixed routine work.
Step 3: Collection of the data
Further, the private investigator needs to work on the collection of data and evidence. Depending upon the case, there will be different requirements and availability of evidence.
For example, there may be biological evidence in the case of criminal scenes (strands of hair, blood, fingerprints, etc.) on the location. The investigator may interview several suspects. In this case, some additional steps might also be involved, like a primary and secondary survey of the crime scene, getting security for the location, submitting various samples to the forensic lab, etc.
In case of theft, they might collect several public records like tax documents, licenses, etc. Sometimes the situation may even demand digital evidence.
Also, a private investigator keeps his eyes and mind sharp open. He notices the behavior and habits of various people that are directly or indirectly related to the case. Surveillance forms an important part of the investigations.
They can even maintain an inventory log for the collected evidence. Photos, videos, notes taken from interviews, etc. are all kept safe. This way, they can present it in the future, if necessary.
Step 4: Analysis of the data
The next step is to analyze all the evidence that has been collected. Again, things are not just clearly indicative. A personal investigator has to connect the dots and find the hidden agendas behind the case. This is the most crucial step involved in the investigation.
Step 5: Reporting the Findings
Finally, after careful analysis of the data, the private investigator submits his report of findings to the client.
The case does not always end here. For example, in the case of criminal scenes, the private investigator has to submit the report and various evidence to the court.
So the mission and vision of private investigators are similar all over the world.
What is the difference?
- The licensing requirements for private investigators change from country to country. State and national laws might bound the investigators.
- The training and education requirements may be different in every country. Then search, and seizure laws may be different in different countries.
- There may also be a difference in the fee charged by the investigators in different countries. A private investigator agency in Spain might charge more economically than that in America.
- The requirements of the investigations may be different. For example, mostly corporate investigations are conducted in countries like Ireland to find out about the competitors, but in countries like the USA, all kinds of investigations are popular.
The vision and mission of every investigator are to be the trusted choice for its services, and it takes far more than what we know and understand. Every private investigator should not advise or use dishonest methods and techniques of data collection. They are prohibited from engaging in intermediary or commission operations because of the incompatibility of any business with the detective profession. And an investigator’s activity shall be carried out in a transparent and open manner. In their work detectives shall be competent, diligent, careful, and use common sense.
So what they show in those books and movies is mostly spicy and fancy stuff. But in reality, a private investigator’s work is quite a task and requires a good skill set and dedication galore.