In short, yes they can. Many private detectives come from a police background and have the skill and know how to put together a criminal prosecution. If they have set up business on their old stomping ground they will even retain many of the contacts they built up over their career.
They will be able to carry out surveillance, questioning, evidence gathering, and with the assistance of a lawyer, take out a private prosecution. So why is this not the answer?
Private investigators lack the resources of the police. They have no access to fingerprinting, forensics, the PNC, etc. And with no powers to detain suspects getting them to talk would be difficult.
Any chain of evidence is much more likely to have been corrupted, and possibly made inadmissible at court.
The victim paying the investigator also leads to issues. Would the investigation be fair and just? Yes the police get it wrong, and yes individual officers act unjustly. But they are made to account for this, either through the forces professional standards department, or if needed the IPCC. With no licensing in place, often private investigators have little more than self-regulation.
Costs of criminal investigations are also expensive. How can we have a system where only those that can afford get justice?
The news this week has been full of stories about what will happen with our police forces if planned funding cuts go ahead. Lancashire Chief Constable Steve Finnigan stated that the current level of cuts would leave Lancashire police no longer viable by 2020. The staffing levels would lead to a reactive police force. However if that is based on current crime levels we may not even get that! Without the proactive work, crime may soar.
So we are left with the reality that private investigators may be used by those with money to fill the gap. If you are able to afford such a service how do you choose a private detective agency to assist you?
Take advice from your solicitor, many firms use detective agencies for process serving, so will know a reputable firm. Check for reviews online. Speak to different companies. If you are going to be spending a significant amount on a criminal investigation then any good agency will take the time to discuss your case and how they will proceed.
EJM Investigations offer a free initial telephone consultation and can be contacted on 01772 334700 or 0161 706 0135. With a network of agents nationwide, many of who are ex-police, we are as well-equipped as any private agency could be to take on your case. Our friendly reassuring agents will put you at ease and discuss your requirements without prejudice, and advise you accordingly.
We are also able to carry out criminal defence enquiries, identifying extra witnesses and other suspects to assist your solicitor in proving your innocence.