People often tell me they would make good investigator because they are observant and patient. A board member of one of the investigator’s associations has expressed this view: “academic qualifications are not necessary; patience common sense and tenacity are the important qualities. I once employed my elderly aunt simply because she was very thorough – and she didn’t look like a detective.”
This paints the picture of an industry where even the supposed leaders adopt a hap hazard approach. It seems like many investigators are doing their best to maintain the typical television portrayal of a ‘private eye’ and the truth is, there is nothing to stop them. The investigation industry is still currently unregulated by the Security Industry Act 2003, still allowing for substandard investigators in the industry. It is past time for a change. The role of the investigator needs to be an operational and a business role, whether you are working as a sole individual, a partnership or as like Expert Investigations Group, a large established company.
So operationally what makes a good investigator?
First, it is essential to know the law, the stated cases and the points to prove for the commission of the offence. If they do not know these then how can they investigate?
Second, they must be experienced in lawfully gathering, preserving and presenting evidence in the correct way so that no laws, regulations or procedures are breached. In which case the evidence will be admissible and will stand cross examination in any legal forum.
Third, they must have the right operational skills. If they are a surveillance officer, are they highly trained? If they are going to interview both suspect and / or witness, have they got experience in following the correct models, such as the PEACE method? Are they aware of the rules for introduction of hearsay, specific aspects of guidelines, such as R v Johnson and R v Turnbull, in order that all evidence has been secured in the statement or interview?
Fourth, do they know the rules of logging and collating evidence and the introduction of used and unused material?
Aside from operational capabilities, a good investigator understands their clients’ needs and requirements and have the infrastructure to ensure that they continually provide the highest service.