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The Private Security Authority (PSA) has published a public consultation document which proposes regulating the Private Investigator Sector. The consultation follows the recent prosecutions of private investigators by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), for illegally obtaining people’s personal information (see my previous blog here).

The PSA regulates persons providing "a security service", which includes a service provided by a Private Investigator. The PSA also grants licences and specifies standards to be observed in the provision of security services by licensees.

Section 2 of the Private Security Services Act 2004, as amended, defines a "Private Investigator" as:

“ a person who in the course of a business, trade or profession conducts investigations into matters on behalf of a client and includes a person who –

(a) obtains or furnishes information in relation to the personal character, actions or occupation of a person or to the character or kind of business in which a person is engaged, or

(b) searches for missing persons;”

The legislation allows for the licensing of the following activities:

  • Any investigation undertaken on behalf of a client
  • Tracing and searching of missing persons
  • Employee vetting and background checks
  • Any investigation into a business or business matters

The PSA has outlined three possible policy options for regulation of private investigators. It recommends using an existing management standard initially and developing a technical standard specific to the Private Investigator sector at a later date. This would allow licensing of Private Investigators (i.e. contractors and sole traders) to commence by the end of Q4 of 2015.

The proposals outlined by the PSA recommend, inter alia, that private investigators make available to clients or potential clients a current statement of their compliance with all relevant legislation, including the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.

Submissions must be made to the PSA by 20 February 2015. The consultation document is available to view here.