Do Private Investigators Work with the Police?

, | 31/07/2019

If you are considering hiring a private investigator to dig up some dirt on your cheating wife or your scandalous boss, it is important to understand what a private investigator is and the extent of their legal reach. While they are not bound by the same rules as the police, they are not above the law.

However, because a police officer works under certain restrictions that a private investigator does not, they often work alongside private investigators who can assist them in a variety of investigations. A private investigator can also collect the evidence required for the police to become involved in a case, since the police can only become involved when enough evidence has been obtained. It is a common misconception that private investigators clash with law enforcement and undermine their services by breaking laws and slowing down investigations. The following article outlines the kinds of investigations that a PI is legally allowed to do and how they work with the police.

1) Background Checks. Private investigators can prove to be very helpful by conducting background checks. Background checks are used when concerns are raised about someone’s character, integrity or credibility. They are often used for employment or volunteering, child custody disputes, entering a marriage, new investments, civil cases and criminal investigations. They can gather this information through skilled research and investigative techniques.

2) Child Custody Investigations. During a child custody battle, a private investigator may be hired by one or both of the parents involved to try and prove that the other parent is unfit to raise the child. This information can be helpful to the court who is responsible for deciding the best place for the child to be placed.

3) Missing Property Investigations. Private investigators can be hired in order to locate missing property or assets, often during divorces and child custody disputes. For example, if one spouse is hiding assets from the other during a divorce proceeding, a private investigator would be helpful in uncovering what is hidden and where it is hidden.

4) Missing Persons Investigations. A common investigation for a private investigator is a missing persons investigation. Individuals that go missing include suspected criminals, someone named in a Will, a past tenant who owes rent (or damage compensation), someone evading paying child support to a spouse, adopted children looking for their biological parents and defendants in a court case.

5) Undercover Operations. Private investigators often work undercover to unearth important information for investigations. Using techniques such as surveillance and research, PIs conduct investigations for assaults, fraud, theft, harassment, discrimination and alcohol or drug abuse.

The following techniques are legal for a private investigator to use in their investigations:
• Conducting background checks
• Conducting interviews after obtaining consent
• Video and audio surveillance (including photos)
• Identifying witnesses and collecting witness statements
• GPS tracking
• Research and online investigations

Private investigators must abide by all municipal, provincial and federal laws, including following the rules and regulations set out in the Private Security and Investigative Services Act. If you are worried that your private investigator is not operating within the boundaries of the law, be on the lookout for the following behaviours:

1. Any and all trespassing is illegal. This involves entering someone else’s land or property without their permission. Private investigators cannot break into private property under any circumstance.

2. Private investigators cannot impersonate a police officer. This includes wearing a badge or telling people that they are a police officer. This is a very serious offence.

3. They cannot wiretap conversations. Any wiretapped conversations, including those used by police officers, are illegal unless they have obtained a proper warrant for its use.

4. Above all, a private investigator can under no circumstance make an arrest. They do not have authority and cannot legally take anyone into custody.

If you are considering hiring a private investigator, make sure you do your research and find a private investigator who is educated, skilled, experienced and who operates under the boundaries of the law.

To learn more, contact Investigation Hotline at 416-205-9114 or Speak with the Experts Now