BSI revises British Standard for private investigators: helping distinguish professionals from rogue operators

BSI, the business standards company, has revised its code of practice for the provision of investigative services (BS 102000).  

Back in 2012, the Home Affairs Select Committee conducted an enquiry into the role of private investigators, and the risks associated with the lack of regulation in this particular sector. To support this policy, 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, to bring it in line with recent technological developments; thus accommodating 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 standard, has taken several factors into consideration: an increase in the use of more sophisticated surveillance technologies, data mining and an ever-increasing 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.  

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

Anne Hayes, Head of Governance and Resilience at BSI, said: “It is 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 is 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.

The standard was developed within a committee comprising a number of experts from industry associations, security specialists, academia, regulators, government and consumers. Full list provided below*

For more information on BS 102000: 2018 Code of practice for the provision of investigative services visit: