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Can I Be a Private Investigator Without a License?

When a private investigator gets their license, they join an elite group of investigators who are committed to doing things in a much better way than others in the field. However, in the UK, there is no requirement for a private investigator to be licensed although there are other laws that they need to operate within. Many people have operated as unlicensed private investigators for years. However, things have been changing in recent times and more investigators are now applying for private investigator licenses.

This isn't just a coincidence. Having a license makes a huge difference in the work and life of a private investigator.

Why You Need To Apply For A License

Although there's no legal requirement to be licensed, any private investigator in the UK should seriously consider getting a license. This is because:

  • A private investigator license serves as a symbol of professionalism. Clients can easily see that you're committed to operating the right way when you make an effort to be licensed.
  • Your private investigator license may give you access to places or people who may not wish to allow entry to any odd individual who comes by with questions.
  • There have been efforts to make licensing mandatory for private investigators and should these efforts bear fruit in the future, you'll be better off if you're already licensed.
  • Being a licensed investigator will help you to join certain professional associations
  • Being a licensed investigator could help to get lower premiums for insurance since a license shows a commitment to operating within the strictest confines of the law.

What Do You Lose When You're Not A Licensed Investigator?

You may already have a long list of clients from your time operating as an unlicensed investigator. However, many new clients are not too keen on working with people who don't have proper licensing papers. This means that as a private detective without a license, you may find it much hard to attract new clients. Sooner or later, this could be a problem for your business.

Additionally, being a member of professional associations helps in getting new clients e.g. through referrals. Without a license, you may not be able to join such associations.

Additionally, certain entities may not wish to grant you an audience simply because they can't be sure that you are who you say you are without a license. Even insurance companies may impose higher premiums since they don't know whether you have the right training to do the job and so don't know what kind of damage you could cause.

Private Investigator Licensing Laws In The Uk

In the UK, the Private Security Industry Act of 2001 is perhaps the most important as far as licensing of private investigators is concerned. This is the law that created the Security Industry Authority which is the body that is in charge of licensing those working in the security industry. This includes private investigators.

However, the Data Protection Act of 1998 also has an important bearing on the work done by private investigators. Thanks to this law, private investigators must register with the information commissioner's office since they handle people's personal data. This law was created to protect people's personal information from being misused by those who process it for various purposes.

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