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Why Do You Need a Private Investigator License?

Thanks to delays in the UK legal process, the licensing of private investigators has remained an option rather than a mandatory requirement for anyone wishing to become a private investigator. However, this hasn't diminished the importance of licensing of private investigators.

For many clients, whether or not a private investigator is licensed will play a major role in their decision to hire them. This is because they will be entrusting a lot of private information to the investigator and without proof of oversight i.e. a license, the same information could be used against them.

Pi Licensing Laws In The Uk

There is currently only one law in the UK that deals with licensing of private investigators. This is the Private Security Industry Act that came into being in 2001. This act created the SIA or Security Industry Authority.

With the creation of the SIA, a provision for licensing of private investigators was created. Unfortunately, despite several efforts, licensing is yet to become a compulsory requirement and this has left room for some rogue individuals to operate as private investigators.

However, since all private investigators are required to register with the Information Commissioner's Office under the Data Protection Act 1998, there is a limit to what an unlicensed investigator can do with your data. However, even this little bit of damage can be significant.

Licensing Criteria For Uk Investigators

In any country where licensing of investigators takes place including the UK, the licensing system is set up in a way that keeps certain people out of the industry. Since private investigators hold a lot of power due to the information they get access to, the SIA understands the need to ensure these powers are wielded by the right people, people who can be issued with a license.

This is why to hold an SIA private investigator license you'll need:

  • To be an adult
  • To have an IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators
  • To be a fit and proper person
  • To have legal right to work

Because of these requirements people who lack the right training for private investigative work or those who have criminal records of a certain nature can be kept from holding private investigator licenses. This means that any time you go to an unlicensed investigator, you'll be putting yourself at the mercy of people the SIA probably considers unworthy of holding licenses.

Licensing Criteria For Investigators Around The World

Surprisingly, there are many who argue that the licensing criteria used in the UK are still very lenient. For starters, in many countries, having a license isn't optional for private investigators as it is in the UK. Secondly, in many jurisdictions, any kind of criminal record is enough reason to deny someone an investigator's license. Some places even require the investigators have a certain minimum number of billable work hours under their belt before they can be licensed.

How Licenses Play An Important Role In Investigators Professionalism

One of the main reasons why many people want licenses to be a mandatory requirement for private investigators is that they believe this will make them behave more professionally. The Security Industry Authority can suspend the license of any private investigator if they are found to be contravening the set regulations. Some contraventions can even lead to prosecution as well as the termination of a private investigator license. The possibility of losing their licenses can go a long way in ensuring investigators treat their clients, the general public and the information they have access to the right way.

Even in the UK, despite the fact that licenses are optional, having one comes with many options that a private investigator may not want to lose.

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