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The role of private investigators and commercial agents in law enforcement

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 234

Tim Prenzler and Michael King
ISBN 0 642 24274 7 ISSN 0817-8542 ; CRC 15/99-00
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, August 2002


This study estimates that there are about 25,000 private investigators in Australia and explores the nature of their work, based on 40 in depth interviews in Queensland and New South Wales. The study examines the kinds of work done by private agents, how effective they are, the legal and ethical issues involved, the issue of regulation and training, and how the benefits of private agents can be maximised by their clients, most notably agencies affected by fraud. Overall, the study finds that private investigators, process servers and debt recovery agents occupy a critical place in the justice system.

This paper is taken from the report of research undertaken with the assistance of a grant from the Criminology Research Council.