What Is a Private Investigator?

A Private Investigator is a person who conducts investigations, usually for a private citizen, business, or organization. They also work for Solicitors in civil cases and criminal cases on behalf of a client.

Private investigators have been around since time immemorial, whenever someone has needed to find someone, or to watch someone, a private investigator was used. Traditionally there was a difference between a Private Investigator (PI) and a Private Detective (PD) but in current times, there is no discernable difference. Investigations depend largely on the gathering and analysis of factual information. This gathering of Information is the main purpose of an investigation and it is a fact that no case could be solved, no assets recovered or missing person located without the investigator successfully gathering information. There are many skills required in order to become a competent and skilful investigator for any type of investigation.

In a nutshell, investigators are professional researchers and analysts that employ observation, enquiry, examination, experimentation and analysis to obtain evidence and information upon which to enable sound decision making. To achieve success as an investigator, certain basic guidelines must be adhered to.

When seeking information a good investigator will ask many questions. He/she will often repeat questions to uncover inconsistencies, following up with more detailed questions.  It is a fact that you can never gather too much information; however you can ask too few questions. It is easy to eliminate non-essential information later on but takes more time and effort to revisit people if you haven’t asked enough of the right questions.

It is essential to recognise that suspects, criminals and other subjects under investigation come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and they are represented by all races, both sexes, and an endless variety of lifestyles.

When investigating never commit yourself to the guilt or innocence of anyone whom you may question. Remember, your purpose is to gather facts; analysis, evaluation and judgement will come later. Never be overconfident, be certain that you have gathered all the information before you deciding that you have come to the end of the investigation, ask yourself the question “is there anymore information I should try to obtain? Is there I anything that I have overlooked that could make a difference in the outcome of the investigation?”

Jorge Salgado-Reyes at Waterloo, London, October 2011

Jorge Salgado-Reyes at Waterloo, London, October 2011