Private Detective Work
A private investigator, a private detective or investigation agent, is somebody who is able to be hired by people, associations or NGOs to undertake investigative surveillance activities. Private investigators most often work for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. Some private investigators specialise in one particular area such as missing children, child abuse or fraud. However, many private investigators operate on a global basis undertaking investigations in every possible area of criminal activity. The latter is termed as Multi- Investigations.
Private detectives or investigators differ from traditional police officers because they have the ability and the legal authority to gather evidence, to interview witnesses and to access hidden information and resources that are not normally accessible to the public or to law enforcement officials. They play a crucial role in locating missing persons. They also play a vital role in recovering missing persons or investigating crimes. Missing persons can be traceable only after the arrest of the suspect. Private detectives and investigators can find out where a missing person is at any point of time using sophisticated methods.
Private detectives require a minimum of a high school degree and a diploma from a college education institution recognized by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). Moreover, a private investigator or an investigator need to undergo extensive training from experienced investigators before they start their job as a professional investigative service provider. Many private detectives specialise in different areas such as organised crime, computer forensics, missing persons, intellectual property theft and corporate crime. One can easily get a private detective or investigator’s job by taking admission into a well-established forensic college as it does not require any form of admission or licensing.
Private detectives provide investigative services to corporate bodies and other corporate clients in performing background investigations, pre-employment verification, pre-employment background investigations, employee history screening, pre-employment criminal records screening and pre-employment drug screening. In order to provide investigative services, private detectives need to have vast knowledge of surveillance techniques, surveillance equipment, surveillance technique related to computers, interviewing techniques and the law. Private detectives undertake surveillance for both public and private entities. They sometimes use undercover agents as their personal bodyguards. However, an employee is entitled to privacy right when engaged in personal surveillance by a hired detective unless it is unlawful and a private detective has taken consent from the employee for the surveillance.
It is very difficult to conduct a thorough investigation of an individual who is involved in mysterious activities. There are so many complex issues that need proper attention like the location of the suspicious activity, identifying the person involved, identifying the behavior of the suspicious individual and knowing the right place to look for clues. Since surveillance techniques vary, private detectives work on a case by case basis depending upon the nature of the case and the facts collected by them. However, all these surveillance techniques do not guarantee the accurate and complete results. The work of a private detective also depends upon the expertise and professionalism of the private detective and the resources and time limits allotted to him/her by the investigative agency.
Most of the investigators use computers and digital technology for doing the tedious investigation work. Their main purpose is to collect evidence, interview witnesses, gather information and conduct researches. They use various types of surveillance tools, surveillance cameras, GPS trackers and other devices for performing the investigation. To investigate a crime, private detectives use different techniques like surveillance, secret observatories, video cameras, and mobile surveillance to observe and record the criminal activities. Some private investigators also use mind mapping techniques, investigative techniques and statistical methods for solving crimes.
Private detectives, who are specialized in intellectual property theft use different investigative techniques for getting evidence against thieves. For instance, most thieves usually operate their operations through secretive meetings, secret service, code words and complex codes. To make their job easier, most thieves use counterfeit bills of credit. A detective who specializes in intellectual property crimes can get hold of these bills of credit and use it as a weapon for stealing the victim’s private or financial information.
Some investigators may work on a freelance basis, while some specialize in being a private eye agency. Some investigators work by themselves, while there are also detectives who work as employees for large law firms and corporate organizations. Private detectives may work for the government, but mostly they work on their own private terms.