Private Investigator Birmingham

Frequently Asked Questions


Seeking the truth through means of a private or corporate investigation may seem hugely daunting and will naturally raise many questions in itself. We aim to answer all of your questions during the initial consultation, but we have put together a list of some frequently asked questions you may be asking your-self. Call us if you have any further questions, and we will be happy to answer any of your queries.


1. What do private investigators do?

There are many specialist fields within the private investigations industry to consider. Covert surveillance, polygraph testing, background checks, trace search enquiries, etc. Sentry Investigations Ltd specialise in covert surveillance and GPS tracker deployments and we also conduct most other forms of desktop investigation work. 

2. How do I become a private investigator?

Firstly, you need to decide which field of investigation you wish to pursue. Whether it be surveillance, tracing, background checks with open-source intelligence (OSINT) etc. You then need to entirely devote your-self to the profession by regularly undertaking training courses and obtaining qualifications, working live cases, acquiring the correct kit and equipment. It is not a part time job by any means, it is a full-time profession as per most professions and you will need to put everything into it to make a success of it.

3. Is surveillance legal?

Yes, surveillance is legal however is does come with legal boundaries which Sentry Investigations Ltd adhere to on all accounts. Our practices are entirely legal, professional and proportionate to the reason for the investigation. We attend regular GDPR training workshops hosted by the Association of British Investigators to ensure our data handling procedures are compliant with current legislation. We complete Data Protection Impact Assessment's (DPIA's) prior to any and all surveillance operations to ensure the investigation has a legally sound justification and is proportionate to the surrounding circumstances.

4. Do private investigators require a license? 

No, at present UK based operatives do not require a license but the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is expected to impose regulation at some point in the future. The current legal requirement is that operatives are registered as data controllers with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) which we of course are. This is why it is so important to ensure your investigative service provider is a member of a reputable professional association (the Association of British Investigators for example). Anyone can claim to be a private investigator without the need for qualifications or prior experience. Investigators who hold membership with professional associations are vetted and assessed on merit prior to acceptance to the association meaning the due diligence you as the client should be performing is already taken care of.  

5. What happens if the surveillance operative is compromised?

This is the worst-case scenario and will only ever happen on a very rare occasion. If, however this does happen, the client will be refunded bar incurred operational expenses. We recently wrote a blog post titled, 'When Things Go Wrong'. Click the link to our blog to read more about hard compromises.

6. What happens if the surveillance operative loses the subject?

Losing the subject is never ideal as it is just as frustrating for the surveillance operative as it is for the client. That being said, having a loss does happen from time to time and the client will still be required to pay for the time spent on the operation prior to the loss occurring. 

7. How will I know what is happening on the operation?

Clients will be given brief updates throughout the operation with a full disclosure of footage and written reports upon completion. We understand the concerns some clients may be having throughout the operation and will naturally want to know what is going on. We do endeavour to keep the client as much informed as possible throughout, but there may be periods where the investigator is unable to update or communicate directly. 

8. How long does a surveillance operation take?

Answering this has many factors to consider (deadlines, budgets, evidence obtained etc) and will vary from operation to operation. Sentry Investigations Ltd surveillance operations do however proceed for a minimum of 6 hours. A period of time will also be required to produce final reports and video edits etc. 

9. I am not sure if I need surveillance for this but can you tell me if I do?

We have listed a number of our services available on our Investigative Services page, but if what you are looking for is not listed then get in touch and we will assess your requirements.

10. How do I set up a private investigation?

The first step is to simply contact us with your query. We will then determine whether the investigation is feasible through successful completion of a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). Then just sit back and leave the rest to us. 

11. What equipment do private investigators use?

You may expect private investigators to be kitted out like James Bond which couldn't be further from the truth. Any investigator that operates from an Aston Martin whilst wearing a tuxedo will create all sorts of problems for his or her self. In reality we use the most normal looking vehicles to blend in and we wear clothing to suit the environment we work in. We do however invest heavily into our camera equipment whether it be a handheld video camera, covert recording devices, GPS vehicle trackers etc. The sky is the limit with surveillance equipment and operatives tend to use what they feel most comfortable with. We possess shed loads of equipment that we rarely even use, purely because we have developed a feel for what works well, and what doesn't. Please feel free to visit our blog, where we regularly go into much more detail about the equipment we use.

12. How do I hire a private investigator in Birmingham?

We recommend always sourcing and contacting private investigators through professional associations (the ABI as previously mentioned). Sentry Investigations Ltd are on the approved members list for the ABI, so feel free to get in touch with us directly by visiting our Contact Us page where you will find further information.