by David Snow
Private Investigations in Ireland has changed considerably over the past decade and very much for the benefit of both the consumer and investigator. The industry has come of age and is often viewed as an interesting and somewhat secretive profession. Investigators are widely accepted and utilised by financial institutions, the legal profession and other corporations who engage with investigators to provide valuable evidence and insight into the world of potential claims fraud, intelligence gathering, tracing and other services.
The position of the private investigator is fundamental to the common law system of Ireland the UK and the US, which by its adversarial nature, guarantees litigants the right to put the best case forward in court. Therefore, the use of private investigators can be essential to the gathering and presentation of evidence in the litigation process.
The origins of this can be traced back to the 1850’s in North America when the Pinkerton Detective Agency was established and hired by banks, insurance companies and the railroads to track down notorious outlaws such as Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Jessie James gang. It was the Pinkerton logo, which was originally an eye that gave the name to the “Private eye”. Investigators have come a long way since then, with technological advances and improvements in working conditions and employment contracts.
In Ireland, standards in this industry have been transformed through the enforcement of the Private Security Services Act (2004) and the licensing and regulation of Private investigators in 2015. Professional investigators and investigation companies must now hold a license to operate and work to standards as set by the regulator, which in Ireland is the Private Security Authority (PSA).
The requirements for licensing include compliance with relevant legislation such as GDPR, tax compliance, professional indemnity insurance, employee screening and Garda vetting of company directors, ensuring all operators are of a fit and proper standard.
Standards in the industry continue to be developed today and with a private investigator’s division now active within the Irish Security Industry Association (ISIA), the industry is coming together to promote and drive industry best practice and standards forward. The group is also working to convey to relevant stakeholders the variety of support services that Private Investigator’s can provide to both commercial and private clients.
The recently elected leadership of the ISIA’s Private Investigator’s division is representative of the diverse backgrounds that the modern-day investigator comes from. Áine O’Friel a Vice Chair of the ISIA’s PI division and director of Premier Insurance and Legal Services has been working in the industry since 1999 and holds a Professional Diploma in Insurance. Carlsen Cloney of CLS Investigators has been working in the industry for over ten years and holds both a degree in Law and a Masters in Criminal Justice. Finally I, (David Snow) the Chairman of the division and author, have been working in the investigation and fraud management industry since 1988. I hold a BA in Investigation Management, Diploma in Criminology and Corporate Fraud, I am a Certified Insurance Fraud Investigator and have authored books on fraud and identity theft. I lecture extensively on fraud and have appeared on TV and radio in Ireland and North America and today am employed as a Director of G4S Compliance & Investigations Europe & Ireland.
Many investigators in Ireland have similar qualifications to the team leading the ISIA’s Private Investigators division and many come from careers within An Garda Síochána. The ISIA recognises that consideration needs to be given to the minimum qualifications and experience held by individual investigators for the benefit of the industry and the end user.
Our ISIA investigation members are amongst a team currently on a PSA working group contributing to the development of the training and licensing requirements for the individual investigators, be they self- employed agents or direct employees of an investigation company. This is a significant move forward and brings Ireland to the forefront of investigation professionalism. It is now illegal in Ireland to engage with a Private Investigator who is not licensed. It is also illegal for a foreign investigator to carry out an investigation in Ireland, without first obtaining a license. It is therefore important to check the PSA website or the ISIA website to ensure that the investigator you are engaging with is licensed and regulated.
The ISIA Private Investigator member companies can assist companies with establishing the truth behind the façade of legal statements. Engaging with a professional licensed investigator, permits you to establish factual evidence in the defence of litigation or other matters whilst ensuring compliance with local laws. Our ISIA members are proud to serve clients in Ireland with a standard of excellence that is echoed by our 46 years of security industry professionalism.