A private investigator, an investigative agent, or private detective, is someone who can be employed by people, companies or NGOs to undertake investigative services. Private detectives are also frequently employed by lawyers in criminal and civil cases. In the UK, there are a large number of private investigators who are specifically engaged in corporate crime. Corporate investigators are needed in this sector because many corporate criminals are now able to operate through the internet, which has made it extremely difficult for police to keep track of them.
One type of private investigators is estate investigators, who investigate matters connected with estates. Estate agents are hired by large estates and wealth advisers to uncover any clues that may assist them in their investments. Many insurance companies employ private investigators in order to detect fraud and insufficiency on their part in the policy process. Insurance investigators also investigate matters such as worker’s compensation, asbestos and other workplace safety claims, as well as investigating death and injury claims and the procedures followed in these claims.
Private detectives also provide a service similar to that of the police, in the form of private investigation. These types of investigations are normally carried out for personal reasons, such as when a married person suspects that they are being cheated upon. When this occurs, there is an urgent need to gather information and conduct surveillance to help the investigation. Private investigators will follow the subject around, photograph them, record conversations and then monitor their movements. They will then use these data to try to determine the validity of their suspicions.
In addition to gathering information for police investigations, private detectives may be required to carry out investigations themselves to help determine whether or not someone is guilty of a crime. If a suspect fails to appear at court dates or is found to be in contravention of recognizance or otherwise, private detectives may be called in to help the police in their investigation. Private investigators may also be needed to help the police in investigating burglaries, theft or identity issues.
Private investigation requires many forms of surveillance. Often, investigators rely on confidential sources in order to obtain important evidence. Sources of this information include other private detectives, former employers or disgruntled employees. Other times, a source may be a confidential friend, relative or public records. A private detective may be able to acquire access to these sources for their investigation, but they cannot use them for their own surveillance.
Private investigation is different from surveillance in many ways. Surveillance involves following a target for an extended period of time, either secretly or through an agent. While a private investigation client can hire private investigators to follow their targets for them, they may also hire private investigators themselves to do the surveillance. This means that if the target is planning to leave town for a vacation or if someone is planning to move to a new address, private investigators cannot perform surveillance on them, unless they hire someone else to do it for them.
Private investigators are not limited to surveillance and the traditional use of computers and written reports. In the 21st century, investigators have also begun collecting digital evidence using high-end electronics and sophisticated software. This digital evidence can be used to build a case against a target even if the investigator is not physically present at the scene. There are many cases in which the information provided by the electronic evidence makes a more persuasive case for the defense than oral testimony can.
Investigators are not licensed by state law to carry a weapon. To protect themselves and their clients, private detectives must carry firearms that are registered to them. They must complete a training course every two years or so. Private investigators must undergo a background check, fingerprinting and credit check before they can legally buy a firearm. Private investigators must also pass a test on whether or not they have mental stability before they can purchase a gun.