What powers do private investigators have?

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Many of our clients are not sure what powers private investigators have, and that isn’t helped by movies that showcase us as the next James Bond. In this article we will take a look at what private investigators can and cannot do so you will know if we can help your current situation.

Why are private investigators hired?

In the movies private investigators are often shown breaking into homes, spying on the bad guys and catching them in the act and finally saving the day. In the real world, private investigators aren’t allowed to break into a person’s home or hack into their online accounts to find incriminating evidence.

Private investigators are hired for the purpose of collecting data in a lawful manner. A private investigator will have to abide by the laws of the country they operate in and any evidence collected will have to be collected in a lawful way. At Covert LTD we understand the importance of the evidence handling process as our founders are ex-police with many years of service.

Are private investigators like the police and can they arrest someone?

Private investigators cannot arrest someone and we don’t have specialist powers to do so. Private Investigators can perform a citizens arrest but the majority of the time a private investigator will hand over any incriminating evidence to the police to deal with.

Private investigators also can’t carry a badge as impersonating a police officer is a crime, however, private investigators may carry ID on them that will show their credentials.

Can private investigators hack social media accounts?

Once again private investigators need to operate within the means of the law and cannot hack into social media accounts, emails, mail or anything else where a person would expect a level of privacy.

Private investigators can however look at social media for clues that any wrongdoing is happening and can use a variety of methods of catching out people through social media.

Private investigators can also legally look at public records, court rulings and perform background checks.

Can a private investigator bug a car, room, hotel etc?

When it comes to bugging services the situations are all going to be different so there is not a yes or no answer to them all. For example, a private investigator can put a tracking device on a car with the permission of its owner. A real-world example of this may be if an employer suspects an employee of using a work-related vehicle for not work-related tasks.

A private investigator on the other hand wouldn’t be able to bug a personal car without permission. If the car was being shared by the person under investigation with a client then it would be possible to monitor a car. Usually, cases like this are seen with couples who suspect a partner of cheating.

Can a private investigator follow someone around?

Yes, a private investigator can follow another person around and gather evidence. Evidence will then be presented to the client so they can decide on the next steps in the process.

A private investigator can legally follow a person around providing they are not breaking any privacy laws. A private investigator for example can’t take photos of a person through the windows in their home or in their back garden either as you have a right to a certain level of privacy at home.

What can a private investigator do legally in the UK – Private investigator powers.

Private investigators have the same powers as individuals in the UK but knowing the law makes it easy for us to collect evidence in a legal way which can then be used in a court of law if need be.  

A private investigator doesn’t have to bug hotel rooms to see if a partner is cheating, and they don’t have to bug a boardroom or anywhere else in a business to see if fraud is happening. A good detective can gather evidence in a legal way which will provide our customers with peace of mind either way.

Do Private Investigators in The UK Need A License?

If a private investigator want’s to track an individual’s whereabouts in the UK then they need a license provided by the SIA or Security Industry Authority. Getting a license is a difficult process but doing so ensures that the private investigator understands the powers they have and can protect you as the customer from liabilities.

If you need help hiring a private investigator we have offices in CardiffBristol and London (we also work all around the UK) and you can see our private investigator fees here.

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