Channel 4 investigation uncovers London firm trading personal data
An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme has revealed how easy it can be for private investigators to access and sell sensitive and personal information held in government databases.
The investigation is expected to lead to calls to regulate the industry with tougher laws, as it was revealed how one firm of private detectives in London sold personal information including bank details, the details of benefit claims and National Insurance (NI) numbers.
Tomorrow the Home Affairs Select Committee, which is currently conducting an investigation into the world of private investigation, will listen to evidence given by those who worked on the Dispatches investigation, as they consider whether tighter industry regulation is in fact needed.
Undercover reporters recorded Stephen Anderson, director of private investigators Crown Intelligence, who at one point asked the reporters whether they worked for the Metropolitan Police Service. When questioned further, Anderson said: “We’ve had over the years, surprisingly or not surprisingly, quite a lot of requests from the police to do investigations.”
Anderson blamed government regulations that stifle the police force for the police’s reliance on private investigators. He said that sometimes the police need information on a suspect before continuing their investigation, and that they would use private investigators to delve further.
The Metropolitan Police released a statement denying the use of private investigators, saying: “The Metropolitan Police Service does not use and has no need for such practices.” The statement goes on to specifically add that the force has had no contact with Anderson or with his company ‘Crown Intelligence’.