You’re unsure whether you need a surveillance operation. Surveillance could be used to track somebody who is in breach of contract, falsely absent from work or is in possession of stolen items. Movements and activity are lawfully recorded, and any other relevant evidence and intelligence is also preserved. But you need to know how to choose a surveillance expert, and what your options are. Luckily, we’re here to help.
What You’ll Learn in This Article
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What should I consider?
There are a number key factors to consider when choosing a surveillance investigation, including ensuring you are acting lawfully and you have the correct service provider.
Key Tips – The J Plan
JUSTIFY: Can you justify the investigation?
You have information good are being stolen, a fraud is being committed, someone is falsely absent from work or your data has been stolen and being used by a former employee.
You need evidence to confirm or disprove the evidence. Your enquires have only revealed so much, you now need proof. You can justify the investigation.
PROPORTIONATE: Is what you are planning proportionate to you needs?
3 days surveillance to prove a skiving absent employee is working elsewhere? 5 days surveillance to prove a theft and misuse of your stolen data?
This is all proportionate for your investigation. What you are doing is reasonable for what you wish to achieve and is proportionate to confirm or disprove the allegation/information.
LAWFUL: Is the investigation lawful?
You will need to use this evidence for use in an internal discipline investigations, a civil recovery exercise or criminal investigation by the Police.
Investigation evidence is lawful and will not breach Human Rights or Regulatory Investigatory Powers at Work Acts, if procedures are adhered to correctly. Public Authorities have to adhere to specific legislation, but generally outside the Public Authority arena you can conduct virtually all investigations without falling foul of legislation. The simple marker post is “Is what I am doing reasonable for what I wish to achieve?”
You have the allegation/information, what you are suggesting is reasonable in a proportionate manner, and you need the evidence assist and have closure.
The investigation is necessary. It is not a ‘fishing’ expedition.
Carefully Choose Your Supplier
In the UK the investigation industry is unregulated and encourages an associate system whereby investigations are sub contracted out, often to unknown providers, who are uninsured and have no accreditations in place.
Are your suppliers?
ISO /similar accredited?
Members of Trade Bodies?
Criminal Record Bureau Checked?
Staff with proven investigation skills?
Proven track record of viable experience?
The protection of your reputation and integrity is vital.
There are two types of surveillance. Conventional surveillance is a team of people conducting the surveillance and technical surveillance is where we utilise technical methods to conduct surveillance. Covert vehicle and asset tracking devices, covert audio devices and data retrieval from computers, printers, mobile telephones and such like.
Conventional surveillance is the most proactive means of tackling the majority of issues, especially when supported by technological methods. Placing a subject under surveillance means you then have control of that subject. You are not reliant on that technology which cannot make a decision ‘on the ground’. Tracking stolen products, gathering evidence of where it is and where it has been is useful, but you will not have a video recording of the offender(s) handling the product, see with whom they are associating and see the other quantities of stolen product.
An employee falsely absent from work who is either conducting daily chores or running a business in your company time will be observed and video evidence will be gathered with a conventional surveillance team. Covert tracking devices will show his vehicle on his driveway, but you will fail to gather evidence whilst he is working in another vehicle, mowing the lawn or walking to the shops.
During surveillance operations, issues arise and require an immediate decision to gather the best evidence at a crucial time and that requires a visual picture of events. Human resources are essential as you may only have one attempt to gather that crucial evidence.
Technical surveillance when utilised correctly provides valuable evidence and intelligence, often supporting conventional surveillance, or be used to direct conventional surveillance towards the ‘end goal’. Those who use technical methods must skilled and proficient in using or deploying them. Technical surveillance is an essential operational tool, but it cannot always replace the trained, skilled surveillance officer.
An allegation of constructive dismissal and disciplinary discrimination was made against a College of Further Education by a former lecturer. He claimed that the employer had caused him significant distress and was making a claim in excess of £150 000 stating he had no quality of life, was taking medication as a result and was seriously depressed and unable to work.
The employer had a suspicion the subject was working elsewhere. The subject was also blind and had worked at the College for 3 years, with adjustments having been made for his blindness.
A covert surveillance operation was conducted in order to gather lawful impartial evidence of the subject’s depressive lifestyle and to establish if he had gained employment. On the first day of surveillance, bearing in mind the fact that the subject is blind, he drove his vehicle, towing a caravan to Wales.
The subject had feigned his blindness to employer for years.
During the surveillance it was also established that the subject had gained further employment. The evidence was used by the College in the Tribunal process to negate the claims made by the subject.
Two senior members of a Liverpool construction company, our client, both submitted letters of resignation within a short period of time. Both employees received substantial salaries, one of £85,00 and the other of £65,000.
One employee was responsible for contracts in the building company and the other was responsible for sales. The behaviour of both were suspicious to the client, their employer. During discussions, attempts were made to establish why they were leaving and broker a new contract of employment.
At the same time information was received from a current customer of the employers’ who stated that one of the employees had told them they were starting work self-employed and were available to discuss any contract work.
This would be in breach of the terms of contract of the employees. Expert Investigations Group were asked to conduct data background enquiries and it was established that a company had been set up in an alias name of the two employees.
Upon them leaving their employment, surveillance was placed on the two individuals to establish their movements and any business activities. It was quickly established that they had rented industrial premises and had begun to run a company from the premises which was in direct competition with their previous employer and in breach of their contracts.
Surveillance showed the ex-employees visiting current contractors, visiting current clients and visiting current suppliers of their previous employer. In addition to the surveillance the two computers which the former employees used were data mined and information was recovered which also confirmed the breach-of-contract. The data from the computers showed that for two months prior to leaving their employment the employees had begun to divert contracts to their new company. In addition, a business plan was found on the computer and a list of data which had been extracted onto a portable device from the company computers.
All of the information supplied to the client and their Solicitors and the evidence was used in the legal civil process.