An Introduction to Private Investigators

The life of a private investigator in Singapore is not as glamorous as those of the detectives in movies and television. Most real-life private investigator services are less glamorous and involve mostly surveillance, interviews, and scouring through records and data to find the truth. They are also involved in delicate cases for civil and criminal investigation and may be hired by groups or individuals.

History of Private Investigators
The history of the private investigator or PI, however, is just as intriguing as the lives of the detective heroes. In fact, private investigation goes back as early as the time of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians. The first instance of espionage or snooping was mentioned in the Bible when twelve spies were sent to Canaan.

The first private investigator services firm, however, was founded in 1833 by a soldier, criminal, and privateer. Eugene Francois Vidocq named the PI agency Office of Intelligence or Le bureau des renseignments. Most of the private investigators he hired had similar backgrounds, which was why it was opposed by law enforcement and nearly went out of business many times.

Vidocq himself made use of his private investigation skills when in 1842 he was arrested for accepting money and unlawful imprisonment during a previous case. He was later released and set up the standards for most of the private investigation services practiced today, such as anthropometrics (study of the movement of the human body), shoeprint plaster-casting, ballistics, record-keeping, and criminology.

Qualifications of a Private Investigator
When looking for a reliable private investigator in Singapore, you should look for the following background and qualities:

1. A PI must have a license to fulfill private investigation services. Only the citizens and permanent residents can have this license. They will need to submit medical documents to prove they are physically and mentally fit for the job.
2. A licensed private investigator is required to complete and pass the three-month WSQ module.
3. Most private investigators are members of a licensed private investigation agency in Singapore. The license allows them to accept contracts and assignment from groups or individuals who need private investigator services. It is better to hire a PI who is a member of a recognized agency because he/she will have the necessary connections to launch an investigation. It is also easier to check the background of the assigned private investigator to determine if he/she can help you with the issue.
4. The education and training of a private investigator requires knowledge of evidence-gathering, legal procedure-handling, and the ability to deduce facts from evidence. The PI may specialize in criminology, criminal justice, political science, and self-defense, although expertise in other fields such as finance, information technology, and communications are also valuable.
5. A good personal investigator must have excellent communication skills, integrity and honesty, empathy, patience and perseverance, creativity and ingenuity, confidence, and is also observant, fair, and smart.
6. All private investigators in Singapore, regardless of the specialty, must have the basic know-how in law enforcement, civic and criminal justice, surveillance, data gathering, and information technology.

Tasks of a Private Investigator
Even back in the days, the private investigator was hired to fulfill the roles of an ill-equipped law enforcement to find the truth. They were not just hired to catch cheating spouse for example, as is common nowadays, but also to do the work of the police or law enforcement that did not require traditional and official means. They were sometimes hired as bodyguards or peacekeepers, mercenaries, negotiators for disputes especially in labor, and even control the workers.

A modern PI in Singapore does not have to be mercenary to do his/her job. The tasks and responsibilities of a private investigator are as follows:

1. Research records, history, electronic data, background, financial status, and other relevant information
2. Collect then analyze the facts or study the leads to arrive at the best possible conclusion or solution
3. Interview relatives and friends of the individual or parties involved in the investigation or to present a case in court as evidence
4. Conduct surveillance of an individual or a group without being spotted and report the findings to the employer
5. Prepare cases for court presentation by gathering relevant data through interviews, surveillance, and record-keeping
6. Analyze techniques involved in investigation such as knowledge in computers, legal codes, surveillance, self-defense, finance, and many more
7. Practice honesty and confidentiality when investigating, especially when private individuals are involved
8. Meet the rigorous demands of investigation even beyond work hours and weekends
9. An effective private investigator must be persistent, patient, and a good planner to achieve the best results
10. Uphold integrity and fairness when investigating, analyzing, and drawing conclusions for the cases assigned

Most of the private investigation services nowadays focus on five major types of fields, such as general investigation, legal investigation, corporate investigation, cyber investigation, and labor or compensation investigation.

• General investigation could be anything from looking for evidence to catch cheating spouse, fining missing persons, scouring public records, and surveillance of individuals. Some general investigators may specialize in one or more areas below.

• Legal investigation is closely tied to corporations, law firms, and law enforcement. The PI is usually hired for contracts, divorce, insurance, finance, and healthcare-related issues that need investigation. In some cases, the PI can also assist in gathering evidence for court trials.

• Corporate investigation involves work with public and private companies that need to investigate finances, employee behavior, possible fraud, merger/acquisition/partnership with another company or group, and handling of funds.

• Cyber investigation focuses on finding relevant information related to cybercrimes, cyberbullying, online frauds and predators, and many more.

• Labor investigation is used by insurance companies and corporations to verify claims, accident insurances, death insurances, medical records, and other employee-related information.