Watching the Detectives: Dispatches on Ethics, Licensing and Regulation
Last night’s Dispatches programme on Channel 4 made for extremely worrying viewing.
Approaching a handful of unscrupulous investigators in London, journalist Chris Atkins attempted to buy information on three willing individuals.
At a time when the industry finds itself under close media scrutiny and the Leveson inquiry unearths more unpleasant facts each day, last night’s documentary can only damage the reputation of the industry even further.
The UK is one of the last places in the world where private investigators remain unlicensed and unregulated. Until the industry is regulated, there’s nothing to stop anyone from setting up as a private investigator – even when their main line of work isn’t investigation, but the illegal buying and selling of information.
Members of the Association of British Investigators (ABI) ought to increase pressure on the association to move this forward to counteract some of the current negative publicity surrounding investigators and put unethical information traders out of business for good.
In the meantime, those investigators wanting to uphold the industry’s reputation should be prepared to do so explicitly, publishing a clear code of ethics on their website and stating clearly that they will not break the law under any circumstances.
The ABI’s website already has a code of ethics which its members align themselves with simply by joining. This might make a good starting point for investigators out there looking to create their own.
The economic climate is tough enough as it is, without the added pressure of negative publicity.
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Privatedetective.co.uk investigated a deal I was close to getting involved in. Investigating my potential partner, they found evidence of criminality, helping me to avoid a deal that could have cost me my company. They were professional and efficient throughout.
Company Executive, Kuala Lumpur