Here is an overview of the forthcoming UK Private Investigators licence information

The Private Security Industry already has licensing in various sectors such as:

  • Manned guards
  • Door supervisors
  • Close protection operatives
  • Public space surveillance (CCTV) operators.

The Security Industry Authority is the organisation responsible for this regulation and reports to the Home Secretary.

The S.I.A has a series of objectives which cover these professions and the soon to be licensed Private Investigator sector. This will include:

  • “Providing services and standards to their customers”
  • “Delivering regulatory activities effectively and efficiently”
  • “Delivering a development programme that continues effective regulation of the private security industry”
  • “To be recognised internally and externally as a model of good practice”

Who will need a licence?

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 defines the licensable activities of private investigations. The Home Office intends to review this definition to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. Questions relating to whether specific activities will be licensable in future should therefore be directed to the Home Office.

According to the Act you will need an SIA licence if you are involved in any surveillance, inquiries or investigations that are carried out for the purposes of:

  • obtaining information about a particular person or about the activities or whereabouts of a particular person; or
  • obtaining information about the circumstances in which, or means by which, property has been lost or damaged.

Taken from http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/pages/licensing-private-investigations.aspx

The current arrangement, under which the system is not regulated, allows anyone to work as a private investigator, regardless of their skills, experience or criminal convictions. This presents a high risk of rogue investigators unlawfully infringing on the privacy of individuals.

Although Private Investigator licencing and the requirement for a business licence are still subject to Ministerial approval, the Government’s intention to regulate this industry is well underway and set to change the way Private Investigators operate making it a criminal offence to operate as a Private Investigator without a licence.

To get the S.I.A Private Investigator licence you need to pass the, “Fit and Proper person” tests and need to have successfully completed a, “Test of Competency”, such as The Academy’s IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF).

What will I gain from the IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF)?

Completing and passing the IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF) is a competency test which includes understanding of relevant laws and standards, and the skills required to conduct activities ethically. Once you pass all the requirements you will be able to apply for your SIA licence.

This award will not however give you any information or training on, ‘How to be a private investigator’. Unless you are lucky enough to find an agency willing to train you, you will find it extremely difficult and almost impossible to operate as a Private Investigator without training.

Whether you are just starting out or need to improve your skills, the Academy of Professional Investigators strongly recommend that you study the IQ Level 3 Certificate in Principles of Professional Private Investigation (RQF), the only IQ Level 3 that includes everything you need to know to work and set up you own agency and covers all 12 modules of Private Investigation.

Licensing of Private Investigators outside the United Kingdom

Licensing varies greatly throughout the world, ranging from no licensing requirement at all, to strictly enforced conditions. Therefore, it is important that students should check the licensing requirements for the country they wish to trade in as a Private Investigator.

IQ Level 3 Certificate in Principles of Professional Private Investigation (RQF)

About this qualification

The IQ Level 3 Certificate in Principles of Professional Private Investigation (RQF) is a qualification for those individuals who would like to work as PI’s who have no prior knowledge, qualifications, or underpinning knowledge of the industry. It consists of 5 units and 12 modules, and 240 hours of notional learning, and is a comprehensive a-z teaching course, and will enable the student to enter the profession as a competent professional investigator. The final exam consists of two papers, 1 multi-choice questionnaire paper and 1 short answer paper.  The pass mark is 70%.

The IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF)

About this qualification

The IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF) is a qualification for individuals who require a licence to work as Professional Investigators. It is primarily a test of proof of competence consisting of 2 units and 39 hours of studying. Under the SIA’s current (2013) guidance it will be mandatory to hold a licence to work as a Private Investigator. To obtain this licence the learner will need to complete a 45 minute multiple choice question paper for each unit, together with a portfolio assessment question. This is carried out at an approved assessment centre. The Academy of Professional Investigation would recommend that all candidates with no prior experience, qualifications, or underpinning knowledge of the industry, undertake the IQ Level 3 Certificate in Principles of Professional Private Investigation (RQF) before the IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF).