How does someone become a private detective? In fiction they are often depicted as former police officers or maybe military men who in both cases, left the service under a cloud of some description. The women usually seem to be society ladies who have somehow drifted into the work as amateurs, perhaps having tried their hand at tracking down an errant lover and as a result, acquired a taste for investigation. That’s not counting the priests who pursue crime detection as a hobby. Is parish work really that boring? Of course these fictional characters only investigate juicy murders and other intriguing crimes, not mundane background checks and matrimonial cases. If you believe that’s how it happens then you are probably too gullible to be an investigator of any kind!
Reality is very different. It is true that many private detectives, male and female, come from a police, HM Customs or military background. Usually, these are people who have retired at the end of an honourable career. Too young to actually retire, they seek to utilise the skills they have acquired during their service careers.
However, the training available in the UK from bodies such as the Institute of Professional Investigators enables many private detectives to start with no previous experience in investigative work. The Institute’s online foundation course provides an excellent grounding in the knowledge required.
Training is available right up to City and Guilds qualifications. Just like a police officer, a private investigator has to work within the framework of the law. A good working knowledge of the relevant aspects of both criminal law and civil law is therefore essential. In particular, a private detective must have a thorough understanding of the rules governing the admissibility of evidence, PACE and court procedures. This is an area where former police and other enforcement officers do have an advantage. Everyone else has to learn from scratch just as they did in their early training. Registration under Data Protection legislation also requires knowledge and understanding of its provisions. So you can see that preparation for the rôle of the private investigator will need to include legal training and study.
The private investigation industry is currently unregulated in Britain. There are indications that the efforts of its professional bodies to persuade successive governments to introduce regulation and registration will soon be successful. When that happens it is certain that no person with a criminal record will be accepted for registration. Therefore, if you are unfortunate enough to have such a record then this is not the career for you.
A person with a clean record who has acquired the basic training may well find freelance work for various agencies which often require people for relatively unskilled work on an occasional basis. This can be a good way of both becoming known to those agencies and gaining experience.
A good first step would be to find one or two detective agencies in your area and if possible, talk to them about prospects and what the work entails. It can be a fascinating career, though rarely glamorous or exciting!
To become a private detective in Manchester and surrounding areas, why not take advantage of our advanced training course?