Although traditionally not thought of as part of the property litigation solicitors’ toolbox, at Expert Investigations Group we are regularly instructed by property litigation solicitors that require proactive evidence to be gathered.
Clearly the benefit can be seen for process serving, for locate trace reports and asset reports but what about aspects of surveillance, test purchases and covert background enquiries?
What about your clients’ property that is being used as a brothel?
What about your clients’ property that has squatters in it and you need to know how many?
What about the protest group that is blockading your client’s development, or besetting their workplace?
What about the drug den in your clients’ property?
These are all enquiries which we’ve undertaken in the last 12 months where we have used surveillance, observations or test purchases to gather evidence, in order assist you in dealing with the issue for your client.
At the risk of being salacious, we were asked to investigate a high-value London residency where we were told it was being used as a brothel. Being former police detectives we understand the law and the relevant offences constituting running a property as a brothel. You will understand that your client needs to have primary evidence: evidence that cannot be refuted to prove the commission of the offence.
This is the case of operation Mayfair, a £5 million property divided into flats with one female using the premises for the purpose of prostitution. A simple, cost-effective investigation identified information on the Internet, but that information did not confirm sexual activity was taking place at the premises.
A recorded pre-text call was made for an appointment, explicit sexual conversations took place between our officer and the female on the phone. The appointment was made, at which point the officer was only given the name of the road to attend and then make a further call for the property address. The officer had requested specific garments to be worn which would only be worn for such sexual activity.
The officer attended the street at the given time, phoned the number and was given the full address including the flat number of the premises. Using two covert cameras the officer rang went to the address given.
The door was answered by a mid-20s female, wearing the central garments as requested and our officer engaged the female in conversation, once again confirming costs for services and details. Whilst this may appear initially to be unnecessary, this information in conversation is vital for proving the commission of the offence and the fact that the premises were being used for the purpose of prostitution.
Under a prearranged pretext, the officer left the premises having covertly recorded all of the information.
Later that afternoon the report and supporting video evidence was sent to the property litigation solicitor, who then had all of the evidence he needed to advise his client and evict the female renting the premises.