An overview of the future 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 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. 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.

The current unregulated industry allows anyone to offer investigative services without any skills, little experience and no investigative qualifications. This presents a high risk of rogue investigators not only taking people’s money by fraudulent means but also unlawfully infringing on the privacy of individuals.

Although Private Investigator licencing is 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 obtain the S.I.A Private Investigator licence when regulation of the industry commences 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. Not only is it aimed at investigators wishing to prove competency in preparation for the future licensing of the industry but just as important is that having achieved the qualification you will be able to clearly demonstrate to clients and the general public your professional ability in conducting any type of investigation.

However the Level 3 Award alone will not give you the required knowledge, skills and knowhow necessary in becoming a ‘professional private investigator’. For those people without any previous investigative experience or qualifications it would be essential to have firstly completed a comprehensive recognised course such as the IQ Level 3 Certificate of the Principles of Professional Private Investigation or you will find it extremely difficult and almost impossible to operate as a Professional Private Investigator without the necessary knowledge, knowhow and skills that are contained in the course.

If you are just starting out in your new chosen career the Academy of Professional Investigation strongly recommend that you enrol on the IQ Level 3 Certificate in Principles of Professional Private Investigation (RQF),before undertaking the IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators which is the only IQ Level 3 private investigation course that includes 12 modules of everything you need to know to obtain either employment as a Professional Private Investigator or to start and successfully run your own agency.

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 Professional Private Investigators who have no prior experience of the industry, knowledge or qualifications. 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. After completing all 12 modules and provided you have progressed well you will be able to sit the final exam, this is online, through IQ’s exam portal. The final exam is a workbook consisting of 46 short answer questions covering all 5 units. This can be completed all at once or per unit there is a 2 year time limit for completion. There is no pass mark as you will need to complete all 46 questions sufficiently to gain your certificate. Once you have completed the workbook and it has been marked and passed the plagiarism check, you will be contacted via Skype to be asked a few questions about the answers you submitted to validate it was you who completed the workbook. After enrolling on the course you will be given access to our student portal and be able to access your course materials, contact your course tutor and use the student forum.  You will be able to start studying straight away.

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