Private Investigations and Personal Security/UK PI career



After a long illness(since fully recovered), I am now considering a new career as a PI, either in the UK or Austria - I'm 40. I gather that laws are similiar(?) for both countries and intend to do a long-distance course for PIs before either joining a firm or going it alone. There are 3 such courses offered by 3 schools in the UK. all 3 staffed by numerous current PIs. Here is the list of the 3 relevant websites. I did check and there are now some SIA requirements enforced by UK law which at least 2 of the 3 UK-based schools mention they include in their course. Other than that, UK laws do not seem to prevent people becoming PIs, that is, there is no US-like requirement to have been in the military or police-force etc., so my lack of experience in such fields is no bar to becoming a PI.

Anyway, I would like for you to give your verdict on the 3 following UK websites/companies re their possibilities/eventual likelihood of employment etc.:-

There's also a US-based international PI course I might consider doing as well:-

Any advice appreciated, thanks!

Hi Geoff-

I am located in the US, so I don't think that my opinion regarding the relative merit of the three schools URLs that you provided would be worthwhile. However, to clear up one misconception on your part, there is no requirement in the US for a future licensee to have been in the police or military. In fact, sometimes the military/police mindset works against a potentially good PI. My employees all have backgrounds in journalism, psychology, sociology and research, not law enforcement (unless they worked as an investigator for the police, definitely NOT a patrol officer.

The ability to write a cogent, coherent and focused report is far more important that how fast your can load your gun! Most investigative work is research, interviewing and report writing.

I did take a look at the advertisement for the Global School of Investigation which promises that for $700 in 60 days " you򬬠obtain all these skills and more:
         ����rveillance techniques
         ����dercover work
         ����surance investigations
         ����mputer investigations
         ����rporate security and investigation

Computer investigations alone would require me, if I was going to teach you, at a minimum 9-12 months of full time study and that would be if you already have an EE degree.  Don't waste your money.

Most private investigators who are working successfully in the field today (I know many of them) began by apprenticing themselves to a "master" investigator; similar to what happens in the trades, i.e. plumbing or electricians. In California, to secure a license you have to have a minimum of 6,000 hours of paid time working for a licensee, i.e. someone who has a license and then you have to take a test, which is fairly perfunctory.
While you are searching to find someone to apprentice yourself to, you should be taking courses at a local junior college (I don't know the UK equivalent) to sharpen your skills in writing, researching (library sciences) and perhaps a few courses in psychology (abnormal and organizational behavior.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. I hope this helps street you in the right direction. Do not waste your money on any of the PI courses that promises to teach you "all there is to know in 60 days- that's pure hokum!

Good luck, Geoff.

kind regards,

Nic Smith

Private Investigations and Personal Security

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Nichols (Nic) J. Smith


I can answer almost any question with regards to the individual state laws concerning private investigators; best practices and procedures used in private investigations;how to determine if the agency or investigator you are contemplating using is sufficiently qualified to do the work and if an investigation was conducted in accordance with the standards of practice and care used in the professional investigative industry. I can also direct you with regards to doing your own research in certain situations, such as finding someone who owes you money. I can steer you through the database "minefield" with regards to which databases contain useful information and which don't. I can also advise regarding the kind of information that you can legally obtain and what's not legal.


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Life Fellow- American College of Forensic Examiners

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Morgan Lewis and Brockius (Int'l Law firm) Sedgwick, Detert (Int'l Law Firm) Bingham McCutheon (Int'l Law Firm

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