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How Do You Become a Licensed Private Investigator?

Becoming a licensed private investigator has become almost as important as simply being a private investigator. The UK is quickly heading to a time when private investigators will only be identified as such if they hold an actual license. This means that without the official license that states that you're a private investigator, you'll have a tough time convincing potential clients that you're the right person for the job. In order to get a private investigator license, you'll need to meet a short list of requirements first.

What You Need To Get A Private Investigator License

The Security Industry Authority has a responsibility to ensure that anyone who holds an official license in the security industry has the capacity to wield the power that power that comes with the license responsibly. Because of this, there are certain requirements that anyone applying for a private detective license needs to fulfil to qualify for a license.

These are:

  • Be an adult
  • Attain training that has led to an IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators
  • Be able to prove that you're a fit and proper person
  • Have the legal papers needed to work in the UK

Licensing For Private Investigation Agencies

If you're planning to operate a company that offers private investigator services, there are certain considerations to consider with regards to licensing. For starters, the company/agency/firm will need to have the necessary licenses to operate as a business. This is standard for any business in the UK.

Secondly, the company will have to register with the Information Commissioner's Office or ICO under the 1998 Data Protection Act. This is because the business will have access to personal data and this Act was put in place to prevent the misuse of this data.

Third, in case the agency intends to offer other frontline services or key holding services in the security industry, the people who'll be providing these services will require licenses from the SIA.

Unlike for private investigators, licensing is mandatory for those offering other frontline services in the industry such as:

  • Vehicle immobilization
  • Door supervision
  • Close protection etc.

Private Investigator License Application Process

The Security Industry Authority has a similar process for anyone applying for a license. The key steps of the process are:

  • Setting up an online account of the SIA website and providing your personal information
  • Starting a new application
  • Going to the post office for verification of identity, making the payment and submitting other documents
  • Undergoing various checks e.g. criminal record, right to work etc.
  • Receiving a notification regarding the status of your application

In case you're not paying for the application on your own or you're applying through your employer via license assist or license management, you'll have to link to the business making the payment. In the case where you're applying through your employer, they are the ones who will fill in your application and provide the initial documents required.

Where employers are using license management, you won't need to go to the post office since the checking of the documents will be done by the employer. When you receive the notification that your application for a private investigator license is successful, you'll receive the license card in two weeks or less. If you're not successful, you'll be given 3 weeks to respond before the decision is finalized.

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