In 2013 the Home Secretary announced the Government's intention for the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to regulate private investigation activities – just as they do already with doormen for example.
The Government expects this to come into force during the Parliamentary session that started in May 2015. The impact for Private Investigators is that they will need to meet the 'Get Licensed' criteria as follows:
1. Demonstrate identity (this means two documents; driving license and passport for example)
2. Have a clean criminal record
3. Have a Level 3 Award in Professional Investigation
The Private Security Industry Act 2001 defines the licensable activities of private investigations although The Home Office intends to review this definition. So, you will need an SIA license 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.
Anyone involved in providing contracted private investigation services will require a license too. There are two types of SIA license:
1. A front line licence is required if undertaking licensable activity, other than key holding activities (this also covers undertaking non-front line activity). A front line license is in the form of a credit card-sized plastic card that must be worn, subject to the license conditions. We are interested to know what the license conditions will be.
2. A non-front line license is required for those who manage, supervise and/or employ individuals who engage in licensable activity, as long as front line activity is not carried out - this includes directors or partners. A non-front line license is issued in the form of a letter that also covers key holding activities.
The penalty for working as an unlicensed private investigator will be a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000. The penalty for supplying unlicensed staff will be an unlimited fine and/or up to five years imprisonment.
Aside from the need to pay £220 for a license, this does seem like a positive way forward for the reputation of the industry.
For us girls at The Lady Private Investigators Ltd, we’re ahead of the game and fully qualified. We are just waiting now for the Government!