Starting up a Detective Agency

  • Price: £5.99
  • Published: May 2016
  • Type: Business Opportunity Profile
  • Format: PDF
  • What qualifications and skills are required?
  • Key market issues and trends
  • Trading, commercial and legal issues
  • Legislation
  • Further information

Detective agencies are engaged by private and commercial clients to gather and report information about an individual or organisation. They range in size from 'one-man' agencies set up and run by a single private detective (also referred to as a private investigator or PI) to established agencies with a number of private detectives. Some agencies employ private detectives, while others engage detectives and other specialist staff, such as IT experts, on a self-employed basis. Private investigation work carried out by private detectives includes checking public registers for information that can be used to trace individuals, obtaining background checks, carrying out covert surveillance, taking witness statements, and preparing a report of the photographic, video and audio information for the client. Some detectives also serve legal notices, such as claim forms.

Typical clients of detective agencies include solicitors who need evidence to use in court proceedings, insurance firms and loss adjusters who are seeking evidence of false insurance claims, and individuals who are looking for a missing relative, friend or colleague, seeking evidence of marital infidelity, or want to check the background of a potential partner. Central and local government departments are also a key source of work for detective agencies. For example, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) uses agencies to investigate individuals and companies suspected of tax fraud, the Department for Work and Pensions uses agencies when investigating suspected benefit fraud, and local authorities use agencies to gather evidence of criminal activity, anti-social behaviour or misuse of the Blue Badge (disability) scheme.

This profile provides information about starting up and running a detective agency. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.

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