How to Hire a World-Class Private Investigator

INSIGNIS Investigations Professional Investigator

How to Hire a World-Class Private Investigator

A World-Class Private Investigator's Mindset

When people envision life as a World-Class Private Investigator, they often picture what they’ve seen in the movies.  They think of the chase scenes, hackers, and spying into homes with binoculars.  Without a doubt, there are sometimes situations when it feels like an action film.  But it’s important to remember, however, that being a professional Private Investigator is more about having the right mindset and skillset than it is about being the next James Bond.  Investigators solve problems.  Investigators find the truth by examining facts and eliminating bias and speculation.

Being an Investigator is a position of great responsibility.  It’s about connecting with people.  It’s about problem-solving and figuring out where all the pieces fit.  It’s about critical thinking and the evaluation of sources and data.  It’s about finding the truth, no matter how difficult it is.  It’s about maintaining morality and integrity, without cutting corners, even if they can get away with it or it will lead to something valuable.

A common theme in the personality traits of World-Class Investigators is relentless curiosity.  With every case, they embark on a quest for answers that doesn’t stop until the case is solved.  And almost every case is solvable.  They investigate something that happened, meaning somebody did it, which in turn means that there is most likely evidence somewhere.  If it was intentional, what was their motivation?  If it was unintentional, was it an impulsive act or an accident?  It’s an all-consuming, intoxicating, amazing pursuit.

The Minimum Practical Requirements of a World-Class Investigator

The UK Private Investigation Industry is currently unregulated.  The system is open to unscrupulous individuals, who claim to be investigators, who abuse, defraud and potentially damage their client’s reputation.

Until government legislation goes ‘live’, the onus is on the client to ensure that they conduct their homework on the investigator which they intend to hire.

A World-Class Private Investigator would gladly produce the following to you:

Proof of experience i.e Level 3 Professional Investigators certificate, and Level 4 certificate in Managing Surveillance OperationsHow long established and previous background if necessaryA full member of a bonafide, long-established investigators Association that, through its membership, provides a safe and secure platformClear certificate of criminal convictionsFull professional indemnity insurance cover and any other cover where relevantNotified (registered) with The Information Commissioners Office for Data Protection
Hiring a Private Investigator is Elementary, right?

Sherlock Holmes, despite his legendary powers of deduction, would be out of his depth with some of the tasks undertaken by 21st-century private investigators. What does the 19th century Holmes know about computer forensics, for instance, or intellectual property theft, or the profiling, tracing and recovery of assets?

These are all services offered by some firms, as is data sifting. None of them is remotely elementary, but then neither is hiring a Private Investigator.

Some of the bigger insurance companies have their own panels of approved investigators and so selecting one is easy for them. But if you were to start from scratch, look for a firm of investigators offering a range of services, not just manned surveillance, but also mining data and tracing missing persons.

Ask the Investigator if they are ICO-registered, have industry accreditations, have undertaken Skills for Security training and have passed their Criminal Records Bureau checks.  Ask for confirmation that they are solvent and their staff are experienced at giving evidence in court. Do they have fraud capabilities and undertake corporate investigations? Do members of staff have ongoing training in the latest technologies and techniques? For that matter, does the firm regularly update its equipment?

You are Hiring a 'Best Effort'

Don’t be taken in by guarantees given by Private Investigators that promise to ‘get you a result’, it is simply impossible to suggest to anyone that they will guarantee a result.  This is a real judgment call for anyone looking to hire a Private Investigator, is this investigator willing to make poor moral decisions in order to ‘get a result’?  There’s a moral line for every investigator, and once they cross that line, once they compromise their integrity, there’s no coming back.

There’s a great saying that goes, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody is watching.”

A great, World-Class Private Investigator’s Guarantee should look something like this:

We commit to giving you our best effortWe commit to being unremitting in our determination to discover the truthWe offer 2-hour appointment windows – seven days a week, day or nightWe’ll keep you updated and provide options if things don’t go to plan on the dayWe guarantee great quality and a fair price for youYou can have confidence in how quickly we will respond to an issueWe guarantee only fully trained agents who commit to our culture statementWe promise to price match any like for like quote from any genuine PI companyWe share your passion for protecting our environmentWe commit to the privacy of your personal information for life Do's and Don'ts when finally Hiring a Private Investigator

Ok, so you’ve done your homework, you’ve asked relevant questions and managed to eliminate a few charlatans who claim to be Private Investigators.  So what do you need to do next?

1.   A World-Class Private Investigator will agree to meet you in person, if they don’t then do not hire them.  The internet is awash with seemingly “local” companies but in fact, they are not.  Ask to meet the Investigator in person and at their office, if they are local they will gladly meet you.

2.  Make sure that you can reach your Investigator on the phone.  How the phone is answered when you first try to call the investigator, when you’re still undecided if you are going to hire him/her, can be a very good indicator as to how your case might be handled.  The use of voice mail is a big red flag in this business, at any stage of the relationship.  Answering services, where the person answering the call is outsourced, or working in a call center, probably in another part of the world, is another red flag.

3.  Avoid the “Budget PI”.  In most cases, just like when selecting a lawyer to handle your divorce or a doctor to handle your open heart surgery, low price is something to avoid.  It usually means the investigator doesn’t have the reputation for getting results which enables him/her to demand the premium rates.  The level of professionalism in the private investigation business has a very wide range, and it usually directly correlates with what you are paying.  Marketing themselves as a “Budget PI” is the only way some investigators know how to get business for themselves.  There is usually a hidden price that comes with “cheap.”  Do you really want to risk paying that price on the issue for which you’re considering hiring a private investigator?  Low price can be the bait that gets you to retain an investigator, but once the investigator gets on the case, will he have the experience and know-how to get results?

4.  Check how the evidence is going to be obtained.  This is extremely important, A World-Class Investigator will have invested time and money into his/her own training and equipment.  Quality equipment does not come cheap but it is a good sign if your Investigator has invested in good quality cameras, camcorders, covert cameras and even night vision.  It should give you some satisfaction that the Investigator is serious about obtaining great results.  Avoid anybody who suggests that they can simply use their phone to capture images or video.

5.  Beware of the Broker PIs.  This is sometimes disguised with phrases such as our “partners” or “part of our network.”  There are Private Investigators out there who are making a business out of subcontracting investigative services, simply taking calls, accepting cases and then scrambling to find someone else, anyone else, even someone they’ve never dealt with before, to do the work.

The primary problem with this approach is that when you hire someone who is “subbing out” the work, you are losing total control of who is handling the case, how much experience they have, what their credentials or reputation are and what kind of results they are known to get.

Once again, looking for a local address on the investigator’s website, along with a local telephone number, should ensure you are dealing with an investigator who will be handling the work themselves and not a “General Contractor” who is subbing out the work and paying a cut-rate fee to someone who doesn’t have the experience, reputation and expertise to earn premium rates on their own accord.

If you have any concern or doubt that the work is being subbed out, simply ask the investigator if they are handling the investigation themselves.  If they fumble with, or dance around the answer, thank them for their time and move on.

Most police officers have a good working knowledge and plenty of experience dealing in and with the courts.

Although there are many very competent Private Investigators who have no law enforcement experience, a law enforcement background is usually an advantage for a World-Class Private Investigator when it comes to issues like credibility and knowing how to think on your feet in stressful situations.  Most police officers have a good working knowledge and plenty of experience dealing in and with the courts.

Contact a World-Class Investigator

Now, if you are considering hiring a World-Class Private Investigator due to some issue that might be keeping you awake at night AND If you’re still reading this AND avoiding most of these mistakes makes sense to you, you may want to give our office a call.  If you’re comfortable discussing your issue over the phone, we can take a few minutes to do that (Of course, all conversations are strictly confidential).   If you then see any value in it, we can meet at one of our offices to discuss how to resolve the issue in person.

Call us now on 0800 009 6423 and speak to a specialist.
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INSIGNIS Investigations Professional Investigator

Founder of INSIGNIS Investigations with over 20 years' military, police, risk management and compliance experience. Particular expertise in investigating and progressing complex matters, financial…


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