What does it take to be a good investigator?

If you thought a long mac, sunglasses and funny looking hats were what makes a private investigator great, you’re wrong. Oh, so very wrong. There’s a lot more to it than lurking in the shadows. But lurk sometimes, we do.

In this blog we will list a few of the great qualities of a private investigator, so for those of you out there who wonder if you could do it, if you tick the boxes, then you might just be right.


It’s not all spy gadgets and hidden cameras in suit pockets, however it’s not a million miles away from the reality either. A good private investigator will be equipped with a few necessary fundamental pieces of kit:

o Camcorder (preferably with good low light capabilities)

o Covert Camera (there are plenty on the market)

o Surveillance Vehicle

o Chargers & Spare Batteries

o Grab bag – A bag ready with secondary kit and essentials should you need to go mobile on foot (train, bus, taxi, plane etc)


As interesting as

life can be as a private investigator, there are times when all you can do is play the waiting game. Not the most fun game to play, but if you play it right, and get good at it, more often than not you win get to reap the rewards.

It’s not uncommon to be sat hidden away in the back of your car whilst hours pass by and you begin to wonder if anything will ever happen. Then just when you feel like it’s time to call it a day, your subject appears, that’s when you catch them in the act. JACKPOT!

Decision making

One of the key skills needed as a private investigator is having the ability to make a decision (usually under pressure) and stick with it and commit to the choice you have made. When you look back you may feel that your choice wasn’t the greatest (hindsight is always 20/20) but that’s okay. When you're ‘on the ground’ you can only do what you think is best at the time. Own your decisions. Take the credit. Take the blame.


For the majority of surveillance tasks, private investigators work in teams, and these can be anywhere from 2-6 operatives per subject. Teamwork off the job is just as important as on the job. Communication and the sharing of information is vital. Clear and concise instructions and the relay of info can be the make or break of a task. A lot of private investigators pretty much have their own language, much like the military or the police, and this is used throughout operations for simplicity and efficiency.


As you can probably imagine, as a private investigator, you will have private clients and corporate clients and the requests you get from them can vary from the most basic and simplistic to the previously unheard of and most complex imaginable.

It is important that each case is treated with the same level of professionalism, importance and etiquette. It is important that you adhere to all GDPR and DPA regulations at all times and that you always practice within the guidelines of the law.

It is also worth noting that it’s okay to decline a request from a client and maintain your integrity in

doing so if you believe the request is not achievable, or lawful.


To put it simply, there is no

thing worse than working with an unreliable investigator. In this industry trust, reliability and honesty are the foundations of a good operative. If you fail to show these basic attributes, you will quickly find people will not want to work with you and will ultimately find it difficult to build a network within the industry.


This isn’t easy, and ‘wins’ don’t always happen as and when we want them too. To become a good investigator, you have to be willing to learn and adapt as you progress through your career. When you first stat out, things will never be perfect, it rarely is. Your footage and imagery could be better, your positioning could be more precise, your follow technique could do with some fine tuning. It’s important that after your jobs a

re complete, you have an honest debrief and analyses where you think you can improve. Better yet, get feedback from seasoned, experienced investigators. I promise they won’t hold back, but it will make you better.

Attention to detail

Over a few long weeks of surveillance, it can be easy to go in to auto-pilot and take your foot off the gas, after all your subject has done the same thing day in day out. Keeping your wits about you and having a keen eye for detail can be what separates an average and a great private investigator.

Will you be the one to notice a change in behaviour or appearance?

Is there something not quite ‘right’ about them today?

Is this going to be the day that the case is cracked and the truth reveals itself?

Report writing

Quite simply, clients want reports to be accurate and factual. They want the important information, and they want it neat, tidy and easy to understand. The reports you write can and will at some point be used as evidence, in courts or other legal proceedings. It is of the utmost importance that there are no mistakes, and more than anything it makes sense and accurately portrays the events that occurred whilst observations were taking place.

This is a brief insight to some of what help make a good private investigator. It also indicates what makes us the best in the business and why it is such a niche, specialist market. If you tick all of these boxes, then you could have what it takes to become the next Sherlock Holmes.

Hire a private investigator get in touch. 0121 751 8292 or 07794050470

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