Conducting investigations is a very tricky and tedious job. Having said that, Private Investigation Agencies rigorously work towards the needs of their clients which are really hard to get. Sometimes this desperation can lead them into pushing the boundaries of investigations into a grey area where they might invade the privacy of others or in extreme circumstances, break a law. Such situations should not arise and private investigators should always work with a sense of moral code so that they do not invade someone else’s privacy. Since there are no set regulations for these agencies in India, conducting investigations is not illegal. Combining this with the advancements in technology, today it is very easy to conduct unlawful activities like phone tapping, Bugging someone’s house, GPS tracking, etc.
These circumstances call for a strict and thorough code of ethics and uphold the morality and privacy of the people while working inside the bounds of the law. A regulation act is meant to be presented in the parliament to regulate Private investigation agencies but has not yet been put on the floor. Hence in the meanwhile below is a set of ethical codes that must be followed honestly in order to maintain good conscience and serve their client’s with a sense of integrity.
Must be insured and licensed
Private investigation agencies should take work from clients only after they have acquired a proper license for conducting the investigations. Private Investigators need to undergo proper training before they start working. In addition to this, the agencies must maintain professional liability insurance so that they can protect their clients and themselves from future mishaps like copyright infringement, damage to property, personal injury, etc.
Professional Work Ethics
A private investigation agency should incorporate morality and integrity while working for a client. They should only take up cases when they have the expertise to deal with them. They should not misrepresent themselves to be completely honest to their clients in all work-related aspects.
Whether it is during the investigation or after completion of it, the private investigators should never disclose any confidential information without the consent of the client unless there is a court order or is required by the law enforcement agencies.
The agency should steer away from all illegal activities so as to please their clients. Activities like impersonating a police officer, tapping phones or trespassing private property. All these activities if done without a proper search warrant or permission can result in serious legal consequences like imprisonment.
Conducting investigation in a fair and neutral manner is extremely important and a private investigator needs to take this very seriously while working. He needs to present information on a factual basis. All his findings should be information that is backed by evidence. He is not meant to speculate or make assumptions about what the evidence could possibly mean. This causes a lot of unnecessary distress and can lead to defamation lawsuits because of damaging someone’s image.
Conflict of interest
A private investigation agency should never accept a case or client if it is in some way a conflict of interest with the other cases they are handling. If the private investigation agency is handling a case that is directly or indirectly related to the new one, ethically the agency should not take up these cases as this gives rise to the unbiased investigation. The agency will not be able to deliver proper information to both the clients. Cases also should not be taken so as to benefit the agency in other cases.
When an investigator is approached with a case to investigate upon he/she should keep in mind that the person asking for the investigation needs to be in some way related to the person that is asked to be investigated. For eg., an employer can hire a private investigator to investigate his/her employee because they have a working relationship. Working on cases where people are not related should not be taken up by private investigation agencies as it might be for unlawful reasons.
The above listed are a few important codes of ethics that need to be followed in order to maintain the ethical and honest working of the private investigation agencies. These codes need to be upheld in all situations in order to smoothly function in society without hurting or affecting the lives of others. Following the above codes will also help investigators from working inside the law of the land and deliver only the truth based on hard facts.