Unlicensed private investigation to become a criminal offence
Operating as an unlicensed private investigator will become a criminal offence, the Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.
The current system, which is not regulated, allows anyone to work as a private investigator, regardless of their skills, experience or criminal convictions.
The new regulations, according to the Home Office, will thwart the high risk of rogue investigators unlawfully infringing on an individual’s privacy.
“It is vital we have proper regulation of private investigators to ensure rigorous standards in this sector and the respect of individuals’ rights to privacy”, said the Home Secretary.
The maximum penalty for working as an unlicense private investigator or supplying unlicensed investigators will be a fine of up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison.
May said: “Anyone with a criminal conviction for data protection offences can expect to have their application for a licence refused. Journalists will be excluded from regulation to allow them to carry out legitimate investigations in the public interest".
Licences will be granted by the Security Industry Authority when an applicant has completed training, achieved the appropriate qualification, confirmed their identity and undergone a criminal check.
The regulations will be introduced next year.