NEWS “without comment”



The ABI proposal to the Information Commissioners Office.

Consultation Document.

Dear Colleagues

I write in response to the ABI’s proposal to the Information Commissioners Office.

The published Consultation Document is a cause of some concern to both the WAPI GC, its Members and the wider non-aligned Investigative Sector.

You are aware that the Association of British Investigators (ABI), long-established as it is, represents only around 5% of the estimated number of those that practise as Investigators in the UK with a portion of the remainder represented by The World Association of Professional Investigators (WAPI) and The Institute of Professional Investigators (IPI). While there is no concise agreement on the number of Private Investigators trading in the UK; it is at least 5,000, and possibly up to 10,000 that currently exist.

The claim in the document that “ABI provides members of the public and professional or commercial users of investigative service providers the only credible protection from poor business and unprofessional practice, abuse, and criminality” is wholly untrue; This inference suggests that non-ABI members are purveyors of poor business practices and criminality.

I take issue with that.

The vast majority of professional investigators throughout the UK, Members of the various Associations, and the non-aligned; who conduct their business professionally, are fully conversant with, and function in full compliance with both GDPR and all relevant legislation.

We understand that the proposed “code” outlined in the ABI document, to be approved should be ‘representative’ of the entire Sector; not just the small percentage represented by the ABI.

I do find it perplexing that the ABI did not consider approaching the entire profession and the other UK Associations. Both to seek support and provide a more extensive input into the proposal to enable a far broader mandate in support of the creation of such a ‘code’.

There are two well-established EGroups in the UK reaching thousands of Private Investigators, many of whom are not members of any Association; but who operate both lawfully and ethically. The ABI could have asked the eGroups’ Moderators to post the ABI consultation documents; thereby reaching a wider Sector audience.

The ABI was rebuked at the Leveson Hearings after they suggested the ABI should become the self-appointed regulator for the entire Sector. His Lordship commented that the Investigation Sector was far too fragmented to be self-regulating. That fragmentation continues to this day as evidenced by the ABI’s exclusionary practices.

The ABI published claim that “The market is unregulated, and plagued by rogue operators” is least misleading; an offensive inference that the thousands of non-ABI members who operate highly successful and ethical Agencies are ‘rogue operators’.

This exclusive proposal appears to be a narrow attempt at self-regulation through the ABI; a minority attempting to control the majority. In our submission, this will only serve to prolong the fragmentation of the Sector.

On behalf of both WAPI and the wider non-aligned, I would urge the ABI to consider making the consultation open and available to the entire Sector. Thus would permit a broader response from all ‘stakeholders’.

Tony Smith


World Association of Professional Investigators