It’s our experience that most people think that they are capable of being a private detective, just as most people think they could write a novel, if they tried! However, working as a private investigator requires a blend of professional skills and hard-won experience that it often takes decades to develop and we’ve recently read about a couple of cases where we can see that a professional should have been hired from the beginning!
Amateur PI nearly ends up in prison
Chris May was a training to be a private detective, through taking online classes, when a friend put him in touch with TV producer David Harris who said he wanted to trace a debtor and get his money back. The astonished amateur found himself actually being propositioned to murder Harris’s wife for the sum of £250,000! That’s where his problems really began.
For some reason, May decided that instead of approaching the police, or hiring a true professional private detective to help him resolve the matter, he would record Harris and then pass the recording to Harris’s wife, Hazel Allison, so that she could take action to protect herself from her potentially murderous husband. But instead of copying the recording, he somehow managed to delete it, and then ended up being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.
Fortunately for May, forensic detectives were able to recreate the deleted material from his computer, providing him with evidence that he had been planning to turn Harris in, not work alongside him, and was exonerated. Since then, he’s decided that he’s not cut out for detective work (no surprise there!) and has moved to Cornwall to start his life again without the stigma of being suspected of planning a murder.
Unregulated private detectives in Japan
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, a legal body, has called for the law on detective services to be strengthened as a result of a slew of complaints about private investigators who promise to help consumers but fail. The complaints have risen from 1,000 a year in 2007 to around 8,000 in 2016.
The most common complaint is from people who have been involuntarily subscribed to online pornography sites and want help from a private detective to resolve the problem. The problem has been that the less than professional private detectives they have hired don’t solve the problem but still charge a hefty fee, despite saying they offer a ‘free consultation’. Part of the problem is that Japanese law allows private detectives to investigate and follow targets but not to conduct negotiations to solve problems, so they are acting under false pretences when they claim to be able to resolve consumer problems. A tighter law would ensure Japanese detective agencies instituted training, hired professionals and adhered to a code of conduct – in fact, everything we do as expert private detectives here in the UK.