News Archive

PIs Gather

by msecadm4921

Private investigators working in Europe should be regulated by a single operating license with common standards and criteria, according to The World Association of Professional Investigators (WAPI).

This will avoid a potentially damaging and costly conflict between the licensing provisions of the UK’s Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA) and the ‘free trade’ requirements of existing and future EU directives, the association adds. PIs operating in the UK are due to be licensed for 2006, bringing them into line with other sectors of the security industry, such as guarding companies. Investigators based in Europe and in other foreign countries, however, will also need to obtain such a licence to pursue targets, including wrong-doers, into the UK and conduct surveillance over them here. Failure to do so will incur prosecution and a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine not exceeding £5,000. But the EU is now requiring member countries to open up to internal trade without restrictions, such as those imposed by the licensing requirements of the PSIA.
 
Ian Withers, Chairman of WAPI told his organisation’s 4th European Congress, held in October in London, said: “It is complete folly to create a regulated profession which in turn creates criminals out of those from other EU states or elsewhere who arrive in England or Wales in the course of their otherwise lawful assignments. For example, if a Dublin-based PI acting quite properly for a client were to follow a subject on a ferry or a flight which landed in the UK, then unless he had previously obtained a PI license in this country, then he would be deemed to have broken the law with dire penalties as a consequence. If PIs have to hold more than one licence to operate across Europe, then this is bound to put up the cost of investigations and that’s bad news for our clients as well as our profession.”
 
WAPI should persuade the EU Parliament to create a common set of standards and criteria for a single European licence, not unlike the common EU driving licence, Mr Withers said. This could be issued and administered by state bodies such as the Security Industry Authority in the UK. As an interim measure, he continued, WAPI would press the EU to take steps so that each EU state would grant reciprocal recognition of each other’s PI licences and permits. The event was attended by 200 delegates from Europe, USA, Africa and The Middle East. Other speakers included: Javier Iglasias, President of APDPE (The Spanish Association of Private Investigators); Marie-Francoise Hollinger, Federal Secretary, and Alain Bernier from CNSP-ARP (the French Association of Private Investigators); Mick Gorill and Dave Clancy from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (for data protection); Richard Newman, President of the ABI (Association of British Investigators); and Tony Imossi, Secretary General of IKD (The Federation of National Associations of Private Investigators). The Congress was followed by a champagne reception and banquet where the guest speaker was Nigel West, intelligence historian, author and lecturer at the Centre for Counter-intelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre) in Washington DC, USA.

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