Integrity of reporting: honest appraisal in surveillance investigations

Integrity of reporting: honest appraisal in surveillance investigations
Integrity of reporting: honest appraisal in surveillance investigations

Last month, we posted about the lack of understanding involved in surveillance taskings. In a follow up to that post we thought we’d highlight another surveillance related issue – the importance of ‘reporting on what you see, and not what someone wants you to see – integrity of reporting!’

When conducting investigations and surveillance there should always be an aim; what is the client attempting to achieve. Quite often, the information or evidence required is something the client believes or perceives is going on or they require to fit a certain narrative. Clearly, client perception will trigger the majority of investigations and the requirement. This is why integrity of reporting is so important.

Last year we had a case where the client was involved in a custody battle with her ex. She informed us he was involved in criminal activity including the supply of illegal drugs. Armed with the requirement we started the investigation. We traced him to a property in London and once confirmed, commenced surveillance on him. The surveillance placed on him was reasonably comprehensive and provided us with good intelligence on his activities and lifestyle over a two-week period.

Unfortunately for the client there was no evidence to suggest he was conducting illegal or nefarious activity. On the contrary, from the surveillance (logs, imagery, video etc.) we actually ended up with an opposite picture of the individual to that portrayed by the client. When we reported the findings back to the client, she was not overly pleased. However, although initially it was not what she wanted to hear, after thinking about we discussed further, and she was actually relieved and felt far more at ease when the children visited their father knowing he wasn’t involved in criminal activity.

During my police career, it was imperative that only facts were reported and documented, and this emphasis on the integrity of reporting was strictly adhered to, even the slightest ambiguity or untruth could result in a subsequent court action being thrown out or have unknown consequences on you, the client or the person under investigation. Key takeaways – always report honestly, objectively and factually, manage the client’s expectations, don’t succumb to pressure, and avoid assumption.

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