Private investigator

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A 1904 illustration of Sherlock Holmes, arguably the world's most famous fictional private detective. Sherlock Holmes Portrait Paget.jpg
A 1904 illustration of Sherlock Holmes, arguably the world's most famous fictional private detective.

A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI and informally called a private eye), a private detective , or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private investigators often work for attorneys in civil and criminal cases.

Contents

History

In 1833, Eugène François Vidocq, a French soldier, criminal, and privateer, founded the first known private detective agency, "Le Bureau des Renseignements Universels pour le commerce et l'Industrie" [1] ("The Office of Universal Information For Commerce and Industry") and hired ex-convicts. Official law enforcement tried many times to shut it down. In 1842, police arrested him in suspicion of unlawful imprisonment and taking money on false pretences after he had solved an embezzlement case. Vidocq later suspected that it had been a set-up. He was sentenced to five years and fined 3,000 francs, but the Court of Appeals released him. Vidocq is credited with having introduced record-keeping, criminology, and ballistics to criminal investigation. He made the first plaster casts of shoe impressions. He created indelible ink and unalterable bond paper with his printing company. His form of anthropometrics is still partially used by French police. He is also credited for philanthropic pursuits – he claimed he never informed on anyone who had stolen for real need. [2]

After Vidocq, the industry was born.[ citation needed ] Much of what private investigators did in the early days was to act as the police in matters for which their clients felt the police were not equipped or willing to do. A larger role for this new private investigative industry was to assist companies in labor disputes. Some early private investigators provided armed guards to act as a private militia. [2]

In the United Kingdom, Charles Frederick Field set up an enquiry office upon his retirement from the Metropolitan Police in 1852. Field became a friend of Charles Dickens, and the latter wrote articles about him. In 1862, one of his employees, the Hungarian Ignatius Paul Pollaky, left him and set up a rival agency. Although little-remembered today, Pollaky's fame at the time was such that he was mentioned in various books of the 1870s and immortalized as "Paddington" Pollaky for his "keen penetration" in the 1881 comic opera, Patience.

In the United States, Allan Pinkerton established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency – a private detective agency – in 1850. Pinkerton became famous when he foiled a plot to assassinate then President-elect Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Pinkerton's agents performed services which ranged from undercover investigations and detection of crimes, to plant protection and armed security. It is sometimes claimed,[ by whom? ] probably with exaggeration, that at the height of its existence, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency employed more agents than the United States Army. [2] Allan Pinkerton hired Kate Warne in 1856 as a private detective, making her the first female private detective in America. [3]

During the union unrest in the US in the late 19th century, companies sometimes hired operatives and armed guards from the Pinkertons. In the aftermath of the Homestead Riot of 1892, several states passed so-called "anti-Pinkerton" laws restricting the importation of private security guards during union strikes. The federal Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893 continues to prohibit an "individual employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization" from being employed by "the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia." [2] [4]

Pinkerton agents were also hired to track western outlaws Jesse James, the Reno brothers, and the Wild Bunch, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Employment

Many private detectives/investigators with special academic and practical experience also work with defense attorneys on capital punishment and other criminal defense cases. Many others are insurance investigators who investigate suspicious claims. Before the advent of no-fault divorce, many private investigators sought evidence of adultery or other conduct within marriage to establish grounds for a divorce. Despite the lack of legal necessity for such evidence in many jurisdictions, according to press reports, collecting evidence of spouses' and partners' adultery or other "bad behaviour" is still one of their most profitable undertakings, as the stakes being fought over now are child custody, alimony, or marital property disputes. [2]

Private investigators can also perform due diligence for an investor considering investing with an investment group, fund manager, or other high-risk business or investment venture. This could help the prospective investor avoid being the victim of a fraud or Ponzi scheme. A licensed and experienced investigator could reveal the investment is risky and/or the investor has a suspicious background. This is called investigative due diligence, and is becoming more prevalent in the 21st century with the public reports of large-scale Ponzi schemes and fraudulent investment vehicles such as Madoff, Stanford, Petters, Rothstein, and the hundreds of others reported by the Securities and Exchange Commission along with other law enforcement agencies.

Responsibilities

Private investigators also engage in a variety of work not often associated with the industry in the mind of the public. For example, many are involved in process serving, the personal delivery of summons, subpoenas, and other legal documents to parties in a legal case. The tracing of absconding debtors can also form a large part of a PI's work load. Many agencies specialize in a particular field of expertise. For example, some PI agencies deal only in tracing. A handful of firms specialize in technical surveillance counter-measures, sometimes called electronic counter measures, which is the locating and dealing with unwanted forms of electronic surveillance (for example, a bugged boardroom for industrial espionage purposes). This niche service is typically conducted by those with backgrounds in intelligence/counterintelligence, executive protection, and a small number from law enforcement entities whose duties included the covert installation of eavesdropping devices as a tool in organized crime, terrorism and narco-trafficking investigations. Other PIs, also known as corporate investigators, specialize in corporate matters, including antifraud work, loss prevention, internal investigations of employee misconduct (such as Equal Employment Opportunities violations and sexual harassment), the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets, antipiracy, copyright infringement investigations, due diligence investigations, malware and cyber criminal activity, and computer forensics work. Some PIs act as professional witnesses where they observe situations with a view to reporting the actions or lack of them to a court or to gather evidence in antisocial behavior. [2]

Undercover investigator

An undercover investigator, undercover detective, or undercover agent is a person who conducts investigations of suspected or confirmed criminal activity while impersonating a disinterested third party. Undercover investigators often infiltrate a suspected insurgent group, posing as a person interested in purchasing illegal goods or services with the ultimate aim of obtaining information about their assigned target. [5]

Many undercover investigators carry hidden cameras and recorders strapped to their bodies to help them document their investigations. The period of the investigation could last for several months, or in some extreme cases, years. Due to the dangerous nature of the job, their real identities are kept secret throughout their active careers. [6] Economic investigations, business intelligence and information on competitors, security advice, special security services information, criminal investigation, investigations background, and profile polygraph tests are all typical examples of such a role.

Certain types of undercover investigators, depending on their employer, will investigate allegations of abuse of workman's compensation. Those claiming to be injured are often investigated and recorded with a hidden camera/recorder. This is then presented in court or to the client who paid for the investigation.

Across the world

Many jurisdictions require PIs to be licensed. Depending on local laws, they may or may not carry a firearm, some are former law enforcement agents (including former police officers), some are former spies, some are former military, some used to work for a private military company, and some are former bodyguards and security guards. While PIs may investigate criminal matters, most do not have police authority, and as such, they are only limited to the powers of citizen's arrest and detention that any other citizen has. They are expected to keep detailed notes and to be prepared to testify in court regarding any of their observations on behalf of their clients. Great care is required to remain within the scope of the law, otherwise the investigator may face criminal charges. Irregular hours may also be required when performing surveillance work. [2]

Australia

Private investigators in Australia must be licensed by the licensing authority relevant to the state where they are located. This applies to all states except the Australian Capital Territory. [7] Companies offering investigation services must also hold a business licence and all their operatives must hold individual licences. Generally, the licences are administered and regulated by the state police; however, in some states, this can also be managed by other government agencies.[ citation needed ]

To become registered in New South Wales requires a CAPI licence, which can be applied for through the NSW Police Force website. [8] The Australian Capital Territory does not require PIs to be licensed, although they are still bound by legislation. PIs working in the ACT cannot enter the NSW area without a CAPI license, else they will be in breach of the law.[ citation needed ] In Queensland, a private investigator need to be licensed under the Queensland Government and apply for a private investigator licence [9] by completing an application for a security provider licence. Applicant will need to have a criminal history check and submit fingerprint.

UK

In 2001, the government passed the licensing of private investigators and private investigation firms in the UK over to the Security Industry Authority (SIA), which acted as the regulatory body from then on. However, due to the cutbacks of this agency, licensing of private investigators[ citation needed ] in the UK was halted indefinitely. At present, no government-backed authorities in the UK license private investigators.

The SIA have announced that PIs in the UK were to become licensed for the first time from May 2015, but this is only the scheduled date for the issue to be discussed in parliament. In December 2014, Corporate Livewire produced an article written by a UK private investigator at BAR Investigations, addressing the issues surrounding private investigation in the UK. [10] [11]

United States

Private investigators in the United States may or may not be licensed or registered by a government licensing authority or state police of the state where they are located. Licensing varies from state to state and can range from: a) no state license required; b) city or state business license required (such as in five states (Idaho, Alaska, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Wyoming); c) to needing several years of experience and licensing-related training classes and testing (as is the case with Virginia and California). [12] In many states, companies offering investigation services must hold an agency license, and all of their investigators or detectives must hold individual licenses or registrations;[ citation needed ] furthermore, certain states such as Washington have separate classes of licensing for roles such as trainers of private investigators.[ citation needed ] A few reciprocity agreements allow a detective working in one state to continue work in another for a limited time without getting a separate license, but not all states participate in these agreements.[ citation needed ]

In 1877, Colorado became the first state in the union to institute licensing requirements for private investigators. Because of the vague definition of term 'private investigator', the law was declared unconstitutional in 1977, but reinstated on a voluntary basis in July 2012 and mandatory in June 2015.[ citation needed ] Florida has 3 types of licenses - Class CC for private investigator intern, C for private investigator, and MA for manager of a private investigative agency. As Class C license requires at least 2 years of experience, most applicants start with Class CC, which allows them to work under a sponsorship of a licensed Class C investigator. [13]

For a Private Investigator License in New York, an investigator needs 3 years of verifiable experience, and to pass a NY State Department of State Division of licensing Services exam.

In 1893 a federal law was passed specifically barring the government from employing the Pinkerton Detective Agency or similar agency.

Canada

Private investigators in Canada are licensed at the provincial level by the appropriate body. For instance, in the province of Ontario, private investigators are licensed and regulated by the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services (MCSCS). [14] In the province of Alberta, private investigators are licensed and regulated by the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. [15] Similar licensing requirements apply in other provinces and territories of Canada. As per the Ontario text of the Private Security and Investigative Services Act of 2005, private investigators are forbidden from referring to themselves as detective or private detective. In order to become a licensed private investigator, you must be 18 years of age or older in Ontario (in other Provinces and territories of Canada the eligible age to work may be higher); have a clean criminal record or obtain a waiver; and submit a correctly completed application for a license. You are required to complete 50-hours of basic training with an accredited source such as a university, college, or through private agencies licensed to administer the course. Upon completion of basic training, individuals are required to write and pass the basic test to obtain a private investigator's license.

Fiction

The PI genre in fiction dates to Edgar Allan Poe, who created the character C. Auguste Dupin in the 1840s. Dupin, an amateur crime-solver residing in Paris, appeared in three Poe stories.

Notable private investigators

In reality

In fiction

Where the characters below do not meet the strict criteria of a private investigator (i.e. available for hire) it is noted in brackets.

American

Bengali

European

Comics, graphic novels, and manga

Film and television

Children's fiction

In games

See also

Related Research Articles

Police Law enforcement body

The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by a state, with the aim to enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder. Their lawful powers include arrest and the use of force legitimized by the state via the monopoly on violence. The term is most commonly associated with the police forces of a sovereign state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from the military and other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing. Police forces are usually public sector services, funded through taxes.

Allan Pinkerton American Civil War detective and spy

Allan J. Pinkerton was a Scottish–American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Detective

A detective is an investigator, usually a member of a law enforcement agency. They often collect information to solve crimes by talking to witnesses and informants, collecting physical evidence, or searching records in databases. This leads them to arrest criminals and enable them to be convicted in court. A detective may work for the police or privately.

Pinkerton (detective agency) Private security guard and detective agency in the United States

Pinkerton, founded as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, is a private security guard and detective agency established in the United States by Scotsman Allan Pinkerton in 1850 and currently a subsidiary of Securitas AB. Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired Pinkerton agents for his personal security during the Civil War. Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency hired women and minorities from its founding, a practice uncommon at the time. Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world at the height of its power.

Bounty hunter Person who catches fugitives for a monetary reward

A bounty hunter is a professional person who captures fugitives or criminals for a commission or bounty. The occupation, officially known as bail agency enforcer, bail enforcement agent, bail agent, recovery agent, bail recovery agent, or fugitive recovery agent, has traditionally operated outside the legal constraints that govern police officers and other agents of the state. This is because a bail agreement between a defendant and a bail bondsman is essentially a civil contract that is incumbent upon the bondsman to enforce. As a result, bounty hunters hired by a bail bondsman enjoy significant legal privileges, such as forcibly entering a defendant's home without probable cause or a search warrant; however, since they are not police officers, bounty hunters are legally exposed to liabilities that normally exempt agents of the state—as these immunities enable police to perform their designated functions effectively without fear—and everyday citizens approached by a bounty hunter are neither required to answer their questions nor allowed to be detained. Bounty hunters are typically independent contractors paid a commission of the total bail amount that is owed by the fugitive; they provide their own PLI and only get paid if they are able to find the "skip" and bring them in.

Eugène François Vidocq French criminal and criminalist

Eugène-François Vidocq was a French criminal turned criminalist, whose life story inspired several writers, including Victor Hugo, Edgar Allan Poe, and Honoré de Balzac. The former criminal became the founder and first director of the crime-detection Sûreté nationale as well as the head of the first known private detective agency. Vidocq is considered to be the father of modern criminology and of the French police department. He is also regarded as the first private detective.

Railroad police or railway police are persons responsible for the protection of railroad properties, facilities, revenue and personnel, as well as carried passengers and cargo. Railroad police may also patrol public rail transit systems. Their exact roles differs from country to country. In some countries railroad police are no different from any other police agency, while in others they are more like security police. Some are given extensive additional authority, while those in other jurisdictions are more restricted.

A special agent is an investigator or detective for a governmental or independent agency, who primarily serves in criminal investigatory positions. Additionally, many federal and state "special agents" operate in "criminal intelligence" based roles as well. Within the U.S. federal law enforcement system, dozens of federal agencies employ federal law enforcement officers, each with different criteria pertaining to the use of the titles Special Agent and Agent.

Undercover operation

To go "undercover" is to avoid detection by the entity one is observing, and especially to disguise one's own identity or use an assumed identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization to learn or confirm confidential information or to gain the trust of targeted individuals in order to gather information or evidence. Traditionally, it is a technique employed by law enforcement agencies or private investigators, and a person who works in such a role is commonly referred to as an undercover agent.

In some countries, security police are those persons employed by or for a governmental agency or corporation with large campuses to provide police and security services to those agencies' properties.

Special Police, also known as Special Jurisdiction Law Enforcement; usually describes a police force or unit within a police force whose duties and responsibilities are significantly different from other forces in the same country or from other police in the same force, although there is no consistent international definition. A special constable, in most cases, is not a member of a special police force (SPF); in countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and often elsewhere, a special constable is a voluntary or part-time member of a national or local police force or a person involved in law enforcement who is not a police officer but has some of the powers of a police officer.

Texas Department of Public Safety Department of the Texas state government

The Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas, commonly known as the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), is a department of the state government of Texas. The DPS is responsible for statewide law enforcement and vehicle regulation. The Public Safety Commission oversees the DPS. However, under state law, the Governor of Texas may assume command of the department during a public disaster, riot, insurrection, formation of a dangerous resistance to enforcement of law, or to perform his constitutional duty to enforce law. The commission's five members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate, to serve without pay for staggered, six-year terms. The commission formulates plans and policies for enforcing criminal, traffic and safety laws, preventing and detecting crime, apprehending law violators, and educating citizens about laws and public safety.

A law enforcement officer (LEO), or peace officer in North American English, is a public-sector employee whose duties primarily involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, municipal law enforcement officers, special police officers, customs officers, state troopers, special agents, secret agents, special investigators, border patrol officers, immigration officers, court officers, probation officers, parole officers, arson investigators, auxiliary officers, game wardens, sheriffs, constables, corrections, marshals, deputies, detention officers, correction officers, and public safety officers. Security guards are civilians and therefore not law enforcement officers, unless they have been granted powers to enforce particular laws, such as those accredited under a community safety accreditation scheme such as a security police officer.

Concealed carry The practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed or hidden manner

Concealed carry, or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), is the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed or hidden manner, either on one's person or in close proximity. While most law enforcement officers carry their handguns in a visible holster, some officers, such as plainclothes detectives or undercover agents, carry weapons in concealed holsters. In some countries and jurisdictions, civilians are legally required to obtain a concealed carry permit in order to possess a firearm. In others, a permit is only required if the firearm is not visible to the eye, such as carrying said weapon in one's purse, bag, trunk, etc. The opposite of concealed carry is called open carry.

Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement

The Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) is a law enforcement agency of the State of Delaware and is a division of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS).

Security Industry Authority

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the statutory organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry in the UK. Established as a non-departmental public body in 2003, the SIA reports to the Home Secretary under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

Labor spying in the United States has involved people recruited or employed for the purpose of gathering intelligence, committing sabotage, sowing dissent, or engaging in other similar activities, in the context of an employer/labor organization relationship. Spying by companies on union activities has been illegal in the United States since the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. According to the American Management Association, nearly 80% of major US companies actively spy on their employees.

Kate Warne was an American law enforcement officer, known as the first female detective, in 1856, in the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the United States.

Security guard

A security guard is a person employed by a government or private party to protect the employing party's assets from a variety of hazards by enforcing preventative measures. Security guards do this by maintaining a high-visibility presence to deter illegal and inappropriate actions, looking for signs of crime or other hazards, taking action to minimize damage, and reporting any incidents to their clients and emergency services, as appropriate.

Department of the Air Force Police Civilian uniformed police service of the United States Air Force

The United States Air Force Police are the civilian uniformed police service of the United States Air Force, responsible for the force protection of assets and all aspects of law enforcement on U.S. Air Force installations, and other facilities operated by United States Air Force.

References

  1. Historique des détectives et enquêteurs privés et grandes dates de la profession Archived 2008-03-15 at the Wayback Machine – "Le Bureau des Renseignements Universels pour le commerce et l'Industrie”
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Private Detectives and Investigators". United States Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. 2010. Archived from the original on 2015-07-02.
  3. "Kate Warne America's First female Private-Eye". Pimall.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  4. 5 U.S. Code 3108; Public Law 89-554, 80 Stat. 416 (1966); ch. 208 (5th par. under "Public Buildings"), 27 Stat. 591 (1893). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in U.S. ex rel. Weinberger v. Equifax, 557 F.2d 456 (5th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1035 (1978), held that "The purpose of the Act and the legislative history reveal that an organization was 'similar' to the Pinkerton Detective Agency only if it offered for hire mercenary, quasi-military forces as strikebreakers and armed guards. It had the secondary effect of deterring any other organization from providing such services lest it be branded a 'similar organization.'" 557 F.2d at 462; see also "GAO Decision B-298370; B-298490, Brian X. Scott (Aug. 18, 2006)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
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  6. "Gun Show : Undercover : Report on Illegal Sales at Gun Shows" (PDF). Nyc.gov. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  7. "Private investigators". ALRC. Retrieved 2019-09-13.
  8. "CAPI Licences - NSW Police Public Site". www.police.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 2019-09-13.
  9. Queensland, The State of. "Apply for a private investigator licence | Security (manpower) licence". www.qld.gov.au.
  10. "Regulation of Private Investigations". Sia.homeoffice.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2015-07-28. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  11. "Top Stories". Corporate LiveWire. 2014-12-17. Archived from the original on 2015-09-21. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  12. "Private Investigator Licensing Requirements". pursuitmag.com. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  13. "Private Investigation Licenses / Business Services / Home - Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services". www.fdacs.gov. Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  14. "Apply for a Licence". Government of Ontario. 2016-09-07. Archived from the original on 2016-11-24. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
  15. "Private Investigator". Government of Alberta. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
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