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New system of regulation for private investigators in 2014

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United Kingdom

Operating as an unlicensed private investigator will become an offence, it has been announced.

Operating as an unlicensed private investigator will become an offence, it has been announced.  The industry at present is not regulated, and the Home Office considers that this presents a high risk of rogue investigators acting unlawfully.

The Home Office intends to introduce an offence of operating as a private investigator without a licence.  Licences will be granted by the Security Industry Authority.  To obtain a licence, investigators will need to have:

  • completed training and achieved a government-recognised qualification;
  • confirmed their identity; and
  • undergone a criminality check.

Licenses will not be granted to those who have been convicted of data protection offences.  

It was said that the proposed regulation would be introduced shortly, and that it would come into force next year.   

Commentary 

The concept of licensing for private investigators has been in gestation for many years. Whilst the principle of licensing is welcomed by many in the industry, 'investigation' covers many activities, so it may be difficult to determine who will have to be licensed in practice.  We await the draft legislation with interest.

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