A leading all-female detective agency based in Manchester has welcomed news the Home Office are cracking down on rogue private investigators by making it a criminal offence to operate without a licence.
The founder of The Female Detective Agency, Rebecca Jane, has expressed her delight that snooping investigators will be given thorough checks and could risk a fine of up to £5,000 and up to six months in prison.
Private investigators currently operate without regulation, allowing anyone to take on the role, regardless of their skills, experience or criminal convictions.
However, from autumn next year licences will be issued only if an applicant has successfully completed their training to achieve a government-recognised qualification and an identity confirmation and criminality check.
Which means Home Secretary Theresa May, who released the news yesterday, can crack down on any budding Sherlock Holmes.
Issuing a statement on her website, Rebecca said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the news from Theresa May. Finally, private investigators are going to be licensed.
“We can say goodbye to the fraudulent people that plague our industry and tarnish our reputation. We’re traditional investigators. We don’t snoop behind computers and access criminal information.
“Our ethics and morals have always remained intact, and we use traditional methods to get our answers. We don’t need illegal information because our staff are experts in their jobs, and they simply do not require it.”
The announcement was made after increasing pressure on the Serious Organised Crime Agency and MPs to release names of companies and individuals linked to unlicensed operators
Mrs May said: “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.
“That is why I am announcing today the Government’s intention to regulate this industry, making it a criminal offence to operate as a private investigator without a licence.
“Anyone with a criminal conviction for data protection offences can expect to have their application for a licence refused.”
A total of 22 law firms feature on a list of 102 companies who have used private investigators, alongside several insurance companies, financial services groups and two celebrities, among others.
Picture courtesy of Anna, via WikiCommons, with thanks.