People have a lot of odd ideas about private detectives. To be honest, the ones about the gorgeous blonde clients, the bottle of whisky in the desk drawer and so on … we rather like those odd ideas and don’t do much to dispel them!
Another odd idea people have is that 99% of our work is for individuals. In fact our work divides pretty equally into thirds. One third missing persons, matrimonial issues and other personal cases, one third corporate clients concerned about fraud or pilferage or conducting due diligence and one third ‘other stuff’.
So what’s ‘other stuff’? Well I can’t talk about our own case load, because we keep a strict code of confidentiality about all our private investigations, unless the client chooses to go public, but I can take a look at what’s been in the news recently about private detectives at work – what you might call public safety cases. This is the kind of work that makes up the final third of our case load.
Keeping consumers safe with the help of private investigators
In Stoke-on-Trent, the local council has started prosecutions against shopkeepers caught selling illegal cigarettes. The evidence for the cases began to come to light when tobacco companies hired private detectives to examine what was being sold in pubs, markets, shops and even restaurants. What they found is that cigarettes were on offer for £3.00 a pack compared to up to £9.00 in regulated outlets. This might seem like a victimless crime, but in fact it’s a serious threat to health – illegal cigarettes, especially counterfeit tobacco, can contain far more dangerous chemicals than well-regulated tobacco and is also much more likely to be sold to underage smokers causing them to experience a lifetime of addiction ill health.
Meanwhile, in London, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association hired private detectives to obtain information about the behaviour of freelance mini-cab drivers who were working for hire using the Uber app. Whilst Uber is popular with clients – it can be much cheaper than black cabs or licensed mini cabs – it has also had some serious negative press including passengers in the USA being assaulted, drivers having no insurance and no knowledge of the city in which they’re driving, and operating in cities like Houston without legal permission so their operation there is unregulated and unexamined.
Whether or not Uber continues to operate in London (that’s up to the High Court) private detectives have been working in the public interest to check whether the app can be used safely and confidently in our capital city.
Private detectives support public welfare
When you see a consumer affairs programme on TV, it’s often based on the work of private investigators assisting journalists to obtain the evidence they need to go public about scams, con-men and dodgy dealers.
Such cases are relatively common – we’re able to help public officials keep our cities safer, catch the bad guys in the act of committing crimes and provide evidence that ensures wrong-doers are fined or prosecuted for their criminal acts.