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Why Do I Need a Private Investigator License?

As far as the law is concerned you don't need a license if you wish to become a private investigator. However, the realities of this important role make it an issue of utmost importance for a private investigator to be licensed. Private investigators' work enables them to gain access to information that individuals may not wish to have out in public.

Therefore, it's important that the individuals performing these jobs be people who understand and respect the ethical boundaries within which they operate. Licensing goes a long way in guaranteeing this.

Laws Associated With Pi Licensing In The Uk

The Private Security Industry Act was passed in 2001. This act led to the creation of the Security Industry Authority and within it made the provision for investigators to be licensed.

There have been efforts to create other laws that would push for the full extent of licensing to be reached. This would make licensing of private investigators a requirement rather than an option. However, this hasn't been actualised yet.

The only other law that currently regulates how private investigators can operate is the Data Protection Act 1998. This law is supposed to control how investigators handle the data they get during their investigations and how they can obtain this data. However, the fact that private investigators can still operate without licenses has created a problematic grey area.

Requirements For Licensing Of Pis

The Security Industry Authority, in setting up its licensing criteria for private investigators, was attempting to create a system that would ensure the job of investigators only goes to private citizens who can be trusted to conduct themselves professionally and ethically.

This is why the SIA requires anyone applying for these licenses to:

  • Be an adult
  • Have a right to work
  • Have an IQ Level 3 Certificate for Private Investigators as proof of training
  • Not have a criminal past that is relevant to the work they're to do
  • Not have a history of serious mental health problems

Requirements For Pi Licensing In Other Countries

The requirements set for the licensing of private detectives in the UK are quite similar to other countries where licensing is available. However, in many countries, the requirements are even stricter with licensing being necessary rather than optional.

In the US, there are states in which any kind of criminal record will automatically disqualify one from holding an investigator license. There are also jurisdictions where investigators are also required to have a certain amount of experience before they can become licensed e.g. certain US states.

How Does A Private Investigator License Safeguard Professionalism?

Having a private investigator license comes with many advantages including but not limited to:

  • Identifying one as a professional operating within certain boundaries and with a degree of oversight
  • Enabling one to join certain professional associations
  • Opening up employment/career opportunities
  • Attracting more clients etc.

However, the SIA issues every license with the idea that the license holder must conduct themselves in a certain way i.e. they must behave professionally. Should a license holder fail to act as a professional, their license can be suspended.

Additionally, very serious infractions can even lead to prosecution. With the risk of losing the benefits of being licensed or something worse hanging over their heads, many license holders understand the need to do their investigative work with the required professionalism.

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