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Do Private Investigators Need a License in The UK?

Private investigator licensing, or lack thereof, in the UK, has been a contentious issue for a while. There are many people who believe licensing should be mandatory for all private investigators.

There have been efforts to implement private investigator licenses in the past. However, these efforts have fallen short at the final step with a private investigator license not being mandatory at present.

However, there is little that prevents a private investigator to become licensed at any time. This means that as much as private investigators aren't required to have a private investigator license to operate in the UK, there is a very good chance this will change in the near future. Therefore, anyone operating as a private investigator or hoping to do so in the future should be considering licensing at this point.


Requirements To Be A Licensed Detective In The Uk

To become a licensed private investigator in the UK, you'll just need to have the following:

  • Evidence that you're 18 or older
  • Proof that you've completed the required training by attaining an IQ Level 3 Award for Private Detectives
  • Right to work
  • A criminal record that doesn't conflict with the role of a private investigator
  • Proof of mental fitness

In the UK, private detectives can only gather information. They can't enforce the law and therefore, they can't arrest people or carry weapons. This means that they are not required to undergo lessons such as weapon's handling before becoming licensed investigators.

A private investigator license is however beneficial for a private investigator looking to uphold professional practices.


Benefits Of Holding A Private Investigator License

Private Investigators, although not legally requiring licensing, should look to obtain licenses that support private investigator practices. These private investigator licenses in the UK can include manned guarding licenses, door supervisors, close protection operatives, and public space surveillance (CCTV) operators. These licenses can be obtained through the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and the SIA is also looking to implement private investigator licensing which covers the practices of a private investigator.

Obtaining and upholding a valid private investigator license will allow a private investigator to carry out their profession in a proper manner, and private investigators that hold current licenses should find it easier to obtain the correct licenses when the UK laws do change.



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