What exactly does it mean to be a private detective?

This is one of those questions we get asked quite a lot; From watching TV many people conjure up the image of a private detective in a crumpled raincoat, smoking cigarettes and sitting in a car taking photographs with a long lens on their camera, winding the film on….

The reality is very different…

What is the reality for private investigations?

Within In an industry that is largely unregulated, we find that our clients are looking for a discreet service, so it is very important to know who you are dealing with and ensuring their credentials match what you are looking for.

For example, at Hawk Detective Services, I have 35 years of policing experience most of it as a Detective and much of it in major crime and safeguarding.  The people I work with are trusted and have similar backgrounds in policing, surveillance and investigation.

As a private investigation agency, we get enquiries from individuals and companies. A good investigation company will offer a private usually free consultation to assess the case.

At this point, a professional private detective will assess what you want and advise you on whether or not it is feasible and, importantly, whether it is legal.

What can you expect from a private investigation agency like Hawk Detective Service?

We have been asked on many occasions to carry out work that we assess as being illegal.

We wouldn’t compromise our integrity by undertaking such work.

It is also important that you know the pitfalls and liabilities of carrying out illegal work.

Sometimes a client may not know or realise something is illegal and needs to be guided.  In a similar manner, it is important an investigator gives a client a realistic account of what can be achieved and helps them ensure an investment is worth it.  We would never compromise our reputation and integrity to put making money above our ethics.

Once there is an agreement to carry out work on a private investigation a “terms of reference” document should be completed. This gives the client and investigator clear direction on what has been requested, the period of time for the investigation and payment terms. Some investigation companies charge on a contract basis and some by the hour or a mixture of both.

Payment to an investigation agency can depend on a variety of factors, how many operatives are involved, whether it is field or office work. In the case of surveillance, it will be dependent on how many operatives, how many vehicles, what equipment is required and, in some cases, whether overnight accommodation is required. In the latter case, it may be contracted, by the hour plus agreed expenses.

A good investigation company will then keep the client informed at all stages and be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.

So, one minute an investigator could be carrying out research in the office, the next they are out doing fieldwork and speaking to people then they may be involved in surveillance.

What it is like to be a private detective involves training and experience to carry out a professional, legal and ethical investigation –  A far cry from the crumpled detective, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other trying to push the boundaries of what is legal.

Anyway, the real private detective may not be too good for the TV programme writers (but we all still like to watch it).  If you would like to find out how investigations are carried out, get in touch today.