Engaging an Investigator

This article was prompted by a conversation with a client who was new to us; they had instructed us to carry out surveillance and investigations because they had previously used a ‘national company’ with ‘local offices’, which turned out to be anything but.

It seems to be a common problem, someone is looking for a private investigator, they look on Google and click the first link they see. We have had several clients recently who have used the services that ‘local companies’ advertise, however, these companies appear to see the client as a cash cow to be milked dry. They string clients along, often preying on their fears.

These companies have virtual offices in most towns and city’s, they use sub contractors who are poorly paid and poorly trained. Often these companies will charge the client for two or more operatives but will only put one on the job. The operatives very often have no investigative experience and very little commercial experience.

One client contacted us because they had spoken to several agencies non of whom carried out investigations despite having ‘investigations’ in their company name. We advised the client on what services we could and would provide which resulted in us being instructed. Another client had engaged the services of a ‘local’ nationwide company who had provided services for 8 months and consistently provided nothing of any use. They had taken thousands of pounds from the client and the operatives had produced nothing more than blurred images. We carried out four days surveillance and produced Chrystal clear images providing conclusive evidence for the client. *update* This client had a need to request information from the ‘Local’ company prior to going to court. The ‘Local’ company lied to our client and claimed to have destroyed all information relating to their case.

Another client who worked in the legal profession had used a company to fit a tracker to a vehicle. It was fitted so badly that as the subject walked out of their house they could see the device attached under their car. The police were called resulting in a huge backlash to all those involved.

When engaging a Private investigator do your due diligence. The cheapest is not always the best. Money may be an issue, and in a lot of cases it is, but the old saying rings true; buy cheap, pay twice. The last thing you want as a client who has engaged a PI to carry out surveillance on your behalf is for them to be compromised and compromise you.

The Private investigator should manage the expectations of the client. They should advise them on what they think is the best course of action for their particular needs. Not all clients understand that they instruct the PI, the PI should advise based on experience. The PI should explain that there is always potential for a negative result. A search may draw a blank, surveillance may produce nothing because the subject did not go out, or arrive where they were expected etc.

Surveillance is not always the answer; sometimes, it is all that is required to provide evidence for the client. A Private investigator should be able to do exactly that, investigate.

How will you report be presented? What happens to the footage captured, or the information gathered? Are they insured? Are they registered with the Information Commissioners Office? Do they have a data protection policy?

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