I bet that when you think about what a Private Investigator is, you think Sherlock Holmes or ITV’s Vincent or even Magnum. Whatever your preconception, the reality is likely to be very different.
So what is it? What do they do and how do they do it?
The SIA are preparing to license the Private Investigation industry and as a result they had to research all activities that a PI might be involved in. They came up with six main categories of activities that they might be involved in. These are to Implement Investigations, Interview Witnesses, Interview Suspects, Search for Information and Evidence, Carry out Basic Surveillance & Laws, Standards and Regulations. These form a best practice of what a PI should know and what activities they engage in. But that is not the full story.
The actual list of activities is much longer and includes over a hundred activities including surveillance, tracing, insurance fraud, interviewing to name just a few. It seems that process serving may not necessarily be a licensable activity.
There are only three routes into the industry;
1 – Find an established private investigator agency willing to show you the ropes.
2 – Buy into a franchise.
3 – Start up on your own.
So lets have a look at the first option. You will have to convince this hypothetical agency that you will add value to their business, that you will not absorb all their learning and teachings and then go and set up shop across the street in direct competition. This option is a hard nut to crack for the aforementioned reason.
The second option is a better one but only if you have thousands of pounds to give them as franchises are not cheap. I have heard that some are charging £10k or more. On the other hand, they offer you support.
The last option is what most people do. With a website, a telephone and a camera, you can be up and running quite quickly. There are some distance learning courses that are relatively inexpensive and offer good value for money and they give you the underpinning knowledge that you will need to become a professional private investigator.
And remember if you want to network with other PI’s then e-legal | Gathering is the preferred forum of the professional.