British Standard for private investigators revised to help distinguish professionals from rogue operators

BSI has revised BS 102000, the business standards company’s Code of Practice for the Provision of Investigative Services. The British Standard was developed within a committee comprising a number of experts from industry associations, security specialists, academia, regulators, Government and consumers

Back in 2012, the Home Affairs Select Committee conducted an inquiry into the role of private investigators and the risks associated with the lack of regulation in this particular sector. To support this policy, the BSI published BS 102000 in 2013 to direct any investigator in how to demonstrate that they have the necessary competence and approach before conducting such activities.

This year, BSI convened experts from across the security sector to assist in a thorough revision of BS 102000 in order to bring it into line with recent technological developments and accommodate a wider audience of users outside of the private investigators sector who undertake investigations, such as Human Resources, corporate governance and in-house investigation departments. Investigative activity occurs in many operations: surveillance, criminal, fraud, security clearance and personal background checking, insurance, computer and forensics.

The review (and subsequent revision) of the British Standard has taken several factors into consideration: an increase in the use of more sophisticated surveillance technologies, data mining and an ever-heightening reliance on social media for extracting information. It also provides recommendations regarding the appropriate conduct, management, staffing and operational accountability for the provision of investigative services.

Broad set of procedures

BS 102000 is specifically designed to provide a broad set of procedures to assist any investigative provider in adhering to industry Best Practice. It also draws attention to case management procedures, data handling and the regulations as well as the employment practices applicable to the investigation. As private investigators need to collect evidence in the course of their work, they now also need to be aware of the rules against ‘entrapment’ and the protections offered under the Human Rights Act when seeking to conduct investigations and interviews.

This British Standard recommends how an organisation can demonstrate that it has the financial and operational resources available to provide the services being offered, and also that a given organisation is competent and provides recourse in the event of a complaint.

Anne Hayes, head of governance and resilience at BSI, said: “It’s still possible today for anyone to simply claim that they are an investigator, charge you what they want and gain access to your confidential information. Therefore, it’s in the interest of the trustworthy professionals, service providers and procurement specialists to be able to differentiate themselves from the rogue operators by conforming to the recommendations highlighted in this revised Code of Practice.”

*For more information on BS 102000: 2018 Code of Practice for the Provision of Investigative Services visit:

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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