What Can a Private Investigator Do Legally UK?

Private Investigators can help you with most of the cases that the police would not put on a priority. Additionally, there are several cases that only evolve into something credible, after you present some evidence to prove your claim.

With that said, a private detective in the UK is bound by some legal restrictions. If you hire a Private Investigator who overlooks the law, the evidence gathered would not be deemed reliable in a court of law. Therefore, it is imperative to collaborate with a private investigation firm that takes the legal jurisdictions into account, while being on the job. If you are curious about the legal limitations of a Private Investigator, you can educate yourself on the following areas.

In the United Kingdom, a multitude of laws and regulations, including the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation, the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, and the earlier Regulation in the Investigatory Powers Act 2000, safeguard personal security and privacy. These laws safeguard your protection and prohibit others from violating your human rights. A lot of conjecture surrounds the private security sector.

Trained professionals

So, how can you know you’re receiving the best of the best? Being a member of security organisations such as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the UK’s independent body – ensures that private investigators function quietly and with the strictest confidentiality. This body protects individuals’ information rights and data privacy. 

Although private investigators are not required to have police or military experience, having this background gives customers extra peace of mind. You can trust that investigators with law enforcement experience will work hard to offer excellent results that are entirely legal. Unlike police officers, however, private investigators do not have the same legal authority over members of the public.

Access to Records

Private Investigators only have access to public records. They are legally within the jurisdiction to carry out a background check on the person they are investigating. However, they are restricted to only researching publicly available records. Hence, a Private Investigator would not be able to look through the phone records, credit reports, mails, and other personal items that require the owner’s consent. Additionally, Private Investigators are not at liberty to hack into or tap a person’s phone, laptop, or any other digital device. Legally, they are further restricted from acquiring financial, phone, medical, and other court-sealed records to investigate the case.  With that said, Private Investigators conduct their searches by comprehensively studying criminal records, court documents, and other publicly-share information. Their dedication and acumen enable them to uncover mysteries with limited information.


Another fantastic approach to collecting pertinent information is by word of mouth, whether from a coworker or a family. This can be used to assist in finding people in the UK that can be missing or keep track of someone’s activities.

Surveillance Techniques

Private Investigators have the legal right to follow or track the person in question. They can follow an individual in their car or on foot. Taking this initiative provides in-depth information regarding the case, which is typically missed out in the limited public records. Although, if a corporate company hires a PI to investigate an employee, GPS tracking would only be legal if the said employee was made aware of this in their contract with the firm.

Surpassing Private Property

Private Investigators are not allowed to step foot onto private properties without the owner’s consent. It is illegal for a PI to break-into a house to gather data about a case. However, if the PI is invited in by the person being investigated, there are no legal restrictions that prevent that interaction.

Direct and Indirect Interaction

The most common way of collecting information for a Private Investigator is by conducting interviews and directly interacting with the individual they are investigating. A Private Investigator has the authority to go undercover to gather raw data using the interview approach.

Investigation of Missing Persons

A Private Investigator can be hired for a missing person case or phone number trace. These cases are usually in better hands with a PI, as they can easily identify if there is a risk factor involved. With the preliminary data gathered by a Private Investigations firm, the employer can go to the police to get their case approved and further investigated.

Investigation of Infidelity

The case of a cheating partner cannot be investigated by anyone other than Private Investigator. A Private Investigator can follow your partner, track their questionable behaviour and report back to you. At any point during the investigation, the Private Investigator refrains from breaking the confidentiality clause of your agreement. Hence, if you are hiring a PI to check if your partner is cheating, your secret will remain safe.

Investigation of a Corporate Investigation

Corporations can also hire a Private Investigator to assess if a particular employee is acting against the company’s regulations. In this case, a PI can collect data with observations and interviews. Their findings can be used as fundamental criteria for making terminations or assisting with arrests.


Once all the investigations are carried out, the Private Investigator can deliver the information back to you. PI’s do not engage or make any arrests. In case of a volatile situation, they can report their findings back to you, so you can report the matters, with the evidence, to the police or the relevant acting authority.

Private Investigators can help you find answers to complex problems that fail to make any sense. A PI can collaborate with you to make sure that you find credible evidence to support or deny any claim. Once you discover this proof, you can forward your case to the destined authority.

Need a Private Detective, or do you want to hire a private investigation agency? Then contact us right now.

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What A Private Investigator Can And Cannot Do?

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