MPs call for tough action on rogue investigators

06 July 2012

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee is publishing a report on private investigators

The Report concludes that it is getting easier for anyone to advertise themselves as a private investigator - with modern communications and cheap surveillance devices - and while the industry remains unregulated, a number of serious risks remain.

The Committee explores the risks of the involvement of private investigators in the justice system and law enforcement and the threat of corruption those links entail.

The Committee:

  • Recommends that the Government should set up a robust licensing and registration system as soon as possible. Private investigators and their companies should be governed by a new Code of Conduct for Private Investigators. Under this system a criminal record for breach of section 55 should disqualify individual from operating as private investigators.
  • Proposes that dealings between police and investigators should be recorded and that there should be a one year cooling off period between serving as a police officer and entering the investigation industry
  • While recognising the honest contribution made by most private investigators, the Report highlights the involvement of some private investigators in an illegal market in personal data and calls again on the Government to strength the penalties for data offences.
  • Calls on the Independent Police Complaints Commission to take direct control over investigations in cases alleging police corruption in relation to private investigators.

Comments from the Chair

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"Recent high profile events, such as the phone hacking scandal, have thrown light on the sometimes shady world of private investigators. We have found that rogue private investigators are the brokers in a black market in information. They illegally snoop on our data, cash in on our private lives and only get away with a paltry fine.
The public must be assured that those acting as ‘private investigators’ are subject to stringent checks, act under a code of conduct, and will face tough penalties if they step out of line.
It is also time for the link between private investigators and our police forces to be broken. Officers must be compelled to declare any dealings with private investigators and be subject to a cooling off period before they can move from the police service to the private investigation industry.
It is time this industry was regulated, so that the honest majority can get on with their work. We expect the Government to act urgently."

Further information

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