The World Association of Professional Investigators concurs with the following statement published by the Association of British Investigators, which is now partly re-produced by kind consent of the Association of British Investigators.
The Association shares the public concerns regarding the unlawful practices of persons claiming to be either private investigators or journalists.
Despite the introduction of legislation in 2001 that required investigators to be licensed, the profession is still no closer to this happening. The Government, through the SIA have recently shelved plans to implement licensing because they considered private investigators posed no real threat to the public. This contradicts the message sent by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in their annual report.
In the absence of licensing, The Association has grasped the nettle and chosen to press on with its own policies all aimed at securing our integrity and regulating our sizeable, and growing membership, in order to protect the best interests of the public and businesses who choose to use our services.
The Information Commissioners Office has recently issued guidance to data controllers in respect of circumstances in which disclosures may be made to private investigators. This arose through dialogue between The Association and the ICO. Such is the Association‘s determination to comply with requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998; the President has recently signed a ‘promise’ on behalf of the entire membership, which is held by the ICO.
The Association has forged a strong working relationship with the ICO in which we regularly seek their guidance and exchange points of view to develop best practice. The Association publishes a best practice guide based around the very subject of data access.
Our own strict vetting procedures are thorough and reviewed regularly. Occasionally, members may be subject of complaint. We have in place an effective disciplinary procedure to handle such matters.
Recent press reports suggest that ‘private investigators’ may have acted unlawfully in order to assist ‘journalists’ in their quest to gather personal information about high profile people. The Association is unaware of the identity of these ‘investigators’ or the precise circumstances of the alleged offences. We have no information that suggests they may be members of The Association.
Allegations of this nature and unlawful acts by persons described as ‘investigators’ only serve to undermine the respectable huge majority of professional investigators and to strengthen the drive of The Association to demonstrate the importance of compliance and regulation in this profession.
The Association is the sworn enemy of the criminal – no matter what disguise he is wearing. The Association of British Investigators is committed to support the authorities in any investigation or prosecution of wrongdoing.
Ian D Withers (European Legislation & Licensing WAPI GC Member) was also interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the Richard Bacon Show on Thursday 9th July 2009 at 22.30 hours in relation to the same matter Listen to the full interview (mp3)