It is extremely shocking to hear experienced voices from within the private investigator industry reporting instances of domestic abuse offenders, often with restraining orders, approaching investigators to track down the ex-partners.
After reading a story last week in an Australian newspaper Insight learned that this has become a frequent problem that has presented itself to investigators on more than one occasion and feel that regardless of where you perform your investigation duties from; you should be aware of the potential dangers of a case like this.
Every day Insight get calls, emails and requests from people with all different requirements and needs; we have to use our many years of experience, training and investigation knowledge to ensure that we have an element of vetting throughout our consultation to job implementation process as taking on a job like this is obviously illegal and could cause a lot of problems for everyone involved.
In Australia the problem has become a common one, this has led to a call from the Police Association secretary to allow private investigators to have limited access to a database which names domestic violence offenders with restraining orders on them. Gut instinct and using your experience to make a call is fine, providing you are right; having this level of access to make the right call right away is obviously a better situation for investigators to be in.
We at Insight, like all reputable investigation agencies in the UK are waiting for the outcome of various enquiries and Government level decisions to be made about our industry and how investigators will be classified and licensed in the future; hopefully along with this we may see a closer bond between data and access to ensure there are no cases that could be deemed illegal or put somebody in danger.
After a busy week or two of attending Home Affairs and Home Office seminars and meetings respectively, we thought that we would share some good news about the private investigator sector and how legitimate private investigators provide services that can provide crucial evidence leading to criminal prosecutions.
The ever growing burden on the UK Police Service has led to an increased number of instructions forthcoming from the general public who have been turned away by various police forces when their complaint has been absent of any evidence upon which the Police could act. This has not been through any disinterest by the police but with the various cutbacks now being realised our overstretched and under manned Police Service cannot cope.
Any Police force has only a limited amount of staff with which to work and the day to day crime control is, quite rightly, a priority they must adhere to. Recently we have seen requests for investigations that we would not normally have seen as they could have been easily dealt with by the Police.
The Internet scams that were not around several years ago would more than likely have become a first priority Police issue, however in these times of economic and financial crisis people are turning to private investigators to help.
Typical Internet scam investigations include;
The Dating website predator who’s only intention is to fleece the unwitting or vulnerable. The Nigerian 419 Scam artist who plays upon the gullible and greedy and promises amazing wealth for just a ‘small’ outlay and, in some cases, the Paedophile predator who passes himself
off as a young teenage male when he’s really just one step from being a signatory on the Sexual Offenders Register.
At Insight we deal with these type of cases and have identified many times those that prey upon others and have supplied information and evidence that has led to convictions and helped with Police investigations.
One such case came from an family where a daughter had dropped out of University following her meeting online a ‘nice boy’ who lived
at the other end of the country and whom she had left her studies to live with. Whilst this was already upsetting to the family, as she hadn’t finalised her University course, the fact that she had broken all communication with the family was somewhat worrying.
She had previously forwarded some of the ‘nice boy’ emails on to the family (before they showed their dismay). From the emails we were able to identify a website which the ’nice boy’ had constructed showing an alarming degree of ‘anti female’ propaganda together with just about
anti everything else.
As he did not originate from the UK we obtained background details of his time in his home country, prior to his move to the UK, which included several convictions (some for violence) and also his age was 10 years older than he had led our clients daughter and our client to believe. During this part of the investigation and whilst awaiting information from our colleagues abroad, from the domain of the website and address had been ascertained.
At the request of the family, surveillance was mounted upon the address. During our surveillance and enquiries at the address we witnessed
evidence of criminal activity which was documented fully and, with the agreement of the family, passed to the Police. This, together with the intelligenc’ received from abroad which we also passed to the Police, led to the individual being arrested and our Clients daughter returning home.
Several months later the individual was convicted of several offences here in the UK and was deported back to his home country to stand further trial on outstanding offences there. Our clients daughter has since realised how she had been brainwashed by a criminal and has returned to her studies.
It can be argued that the client had to foot the bill to gather and provide the evidence, but what family wouldn’t ?
Our clients had absolutely no problems with the Police who acted swiftly when the evidence was supplied to them, such evidence that may
have taken many months to obtain given the current financial restraints. This is a classic example of how swift and wholly legal actions by private investigators can assist the Police.
After all the recent negativity surrounding our industry, we thought that we would share some good news and how valuable the services of a fully legitimate and experienced detective agency can be.
Insight Director Tony Smith, along with other representatives of the private investigator industry and associations, attended a meeting with the Under Secretary for Equalities Lynne Featherstone. Amongst other attendees were a Bank of England representative.
The meeting allowed an opportunity for Ms Featherstone to understand and explore expert industry opinions surrounding any potential problems in licensing the private investigator profession and moving the sector forwards after the negative cloud over the industry for over 12 months.
Each attendee introduced themselves and provided a sypnosis of our backgrounds and day to day duties before discussing the main issue of licensing. It was agreed across the board that self regulation would not be the way to go. Our summary would be that Ms Featherstone was grateful for our input and took on board our concerns; however the hour meeting was nowhere near long enough to really explore what action needs to be taken.
We can only hope that when licensing steps are taken, they are progressed correctly.
2011 started pretty much like any other year in recent times, with lots of enquiries and operations being undertaken for our clients, private, commercial and legal, with no real private investigator industry movements to note of major interest. This trend continued until a story was featured in The Guardian on the 4th July reporting that the News of The World has hacked Milly Dowler’s voicemail.
From this point on 2011 has been a somewhat challenging and interesting year for the private investigator industry, there have been ongoing investigations and a public enquiry into these types of activities and the spotlight has been thrust onto our professional sector like no time previously.
On a personal note Insight’s daily enquiries and requests for how to avoid phone hacking, calls and emails wanting to know if we offered hacking and the whole furore around it seemed to take up the majority of our time for a good couple of weeks until things had settled down slightly. Our Director Tony Smith, also Vice Chairman of the World Association of Private Investigators, was selected to give his thoughts and expert opinion by Radio 5 Live on the whole phone hacking scandal.
Both Insight, WAPI and even the Government have called for a look into the possibility of licensing the private investigator industry to ensure rogue investigators who quite happily offer illegal services are stamped out and indeed prosecuted for carrying out such activities. We shall watch with interest on this subject as we have long campaigned for the industry to be governed.
In November of this year we celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the World Association of Private Investigators with a day and night of conferences, banquets and celebration, with the focus on the law surrounding hacking, blagging and bugging to make it crystal clear to both private investigators and journalists where the issue stands by the letter of the law.
The final months of 2011 have seen a return to normaility however the public enquiry and debates rage on as more celebrities, victims of crime and such public figures have been revealed as victims of hacking and related activities. We can only do thing the right way as we have for over 30 years and continue to strengthen our own reputation and hope that others follow suit.
Insight Investigations would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients past, present and future a Happy New Year for 2012.