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You'll soon need a licence if you want to be a private investigator

Plans to license the PI industry are being formulated by Data Protection Minister Dara Murphy.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC crime drama
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC crime drama
Image: YouTube via BBC

THE GOVERNMENT INTENDS to regulate the private investigations sector by the end of next year with a minister acknowledging concerns about how some PIs operate in Ireland following recent court cases.

Plans to have the Private Security Authority (PSA) licence contractors in the sector are expected to be in place by the end of next year with further plans to licence individual PIs set to be rolled out in 2016.

Last month, two private investigations company owners were convicted of deceptively taking personal information from the Department of Social Protection and the HSE and passing it on to credit unions after a case was taken by the Data Protection Commissioner.

The Data Protection Minister Dara Murphy has now confirmed plans to regulate the industry, something many PIs said they wanted in recent interviews with TheJournal.ie

In response to a parliamentary question, Murphy said he was “aware of concerns at the modus operandi of some private investigators, as indicated by recent court cases taken by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner”.

He said that the Private Security Authority – the body responsible for licensing Cash In Transit vans, security guards and bouncers – is now working on “the foundations for the development of licensing in the area”.

The PSA carried out a public consultation last year and is now in the process of conducting a regulatory impact assessment to see how the licensing of the PI sector would work.

Murphy said the regulatory impact assessment is “at an advanced stage” and due to be finished by the end of the year with plans to have contractors in the sector licensed by the end of 2015 and individual PIs licensed in 2016.

Murphy’s response was to a question put down by the Fianna Fáil TD and justice spokesperson Niall Collins.

He had asked the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald if she was concerned about the ability of private investigators to access personal data in breach of the law.

Read: What is it like to be a private investigator in Ireland?

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Hugh O'Connell

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