About the ABI

The voice and standard bearer for British Investigators and the key professional body for investigators

Formed in 1913, the ABI is the home of professional private sector investigation here in the UK. In an industry that’s still unregulated, we work tirelessly to raise standards and to see the credibility of our members recognised.

Since the 1950s, we’ve lobbied successive governments for regulation. While we wait, the industry remains a ‘free-for-all’, where untrained and unscrupulous operators are free to practice. This tarnishes the reputation of our industry as a whole - so we’ve imposed our own voluntary code of ethics and standards. Members adhere to this, so ABI membership is worn as a badge of quality.

A form of regulation, where no official licensing exists.

Screening New Members

Any investigator who applies for membership is rigorously vetted, he or she will have to produce a criminal records certificate that meets the ABI Policy Statement, hold adequate professional indemnity insurance and show sound financial probity. References are thoroughly checked, and membership is only offered following a face-to-face interview. Only the best people make the grade.

It's all about Accountability.

“The crucial, crucial change [GDPR] brought was around accountability. Accountability encapsulates everything the GDPR is about,” says UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham (April 2019).

Training & Development

Meeting a standard is only the beginning. Through the ABI Academy, we also advocate continuous professional development, and support our members’ learning through regular seminars and workshops.

The Academy is open to new investigators too. It offers an induction programme linked to SFJ Awards IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators (QCF). If licensing is ever introduced in the future, this is the standard that future professionals are most likely to be asked to meet.

Professional Partnerships

The ABI is the only association in this industry to be working with the Law Society of England and Wales, and included in the Law Society of Scotland's approved supplier scheme. These are Britain’s highest independent legal professional bodies.

We’re also the only industry body to be approved by and hold a formal agreement with the DVLA.

These partnerships are more than a show of integrity. In practice, they help our members to work more efficiently and resolve clients’ cases with a minimum of fuss.

Our Members Database

If you need to hire an investigator, our Members Database gives you access to the very best people in the industry. You can search by region, and find someone with specialist experience in your field of investigation - knowing full well that we’ve done the due diligence, so you don’t have to.  To verify membership not found in the Members Database please also check the ABI Directory of Provisional Members or contact the Secretariat on 020 8191 7500 or Secretariat@theABI.org.uk

Take the Next Step with ABI

Choose a statement that applies to you here, and click to see how we can help you:

“I need to hire an investigator”
No problem. Whether you’re a solicitor, HR person, government body…or a private individual…you’ll find the person you need here. Click here to read why choose an ABI member.
Search our Members Database.

“I’m already an investigator. Why should I join you?”
We’re here to help you build your business. As a member, you’ll have the weight of our approval. You can show clients that you’re fully vetted. Plus, you’ll have access to a raft of CPD resources. You’ll gain new skills, and work more efficiently - and more profitably too. Click here to read why choose the ABI.
Apply for membership here.

“I’m thinking of training as an investigator. Is it the right move?”
We can help you decide if this is the career for you. Then we’ll help you work towards the recognised qualification, and show you how to start - and build – your investigation business. We’ll be your partner, on hand throughout your new career. To shape your skills. Help to resolve your problems. And prove that you’re a trusted professional.

Get started here.


Rogue Websites

With the benefits of the digital world and the Internet in particular, comes the power to deceive.

The Investigation sector is not immune to such threats.

When looking for a local investigator a quick key word search on Google or any other search engine will point you to a myriad of impressive looking web sites carefully crafted to give the perception that the agency behind that internet shop front, is able to provide coverage of the type of service you seek and in your area. Yet invariably the lack of transparency as to the ownership of the web site, such as their virtual office and non-geographic contact numbers, give away a less professional intent.

The key ingredient to safeguard you against engaging a rogue PI business is ‘Accountability’, which comes with verifiable membership to The Association of British Investigators.

Such is the ABI kite mark of accreditation that many rogue agencies abuse the privilege by claiming membership or deceptive reference to the ABI to hoodwink potential clients to interact with them. This deception does not usually end well for the client!

The ABI office receives complaints from unfortunate members of the public and some professional clients, who have fallen victim to the unscrupulous practices of rogue agencies masquerading as professional investigators. Unfortunately, as such rogue agencies are not members of the ABI we are powerless to intervene when the victims can end up suffering losses without recourse to any means of remedy.

Whilst many ABI members do not appear in the ABI directory their membership can be quickly verified by an email to Secretariat@theABI.org.uk or a telephone call to the ABI office +44 20 8191 7500. Even if your chosen PI service provider does not claim affiliation to the ABI please feel free to check with us first.

Click below to listen to the May 2018 Radio 4 programme on PI scams:

PolicyBee professional insurance broker

Working with the Law Society

The ABI is the only association in this industry to be recognised by the Law Society of England and Wales.

The highest independent professional body for solicitors put their trust in us. We’re confident you can do the same.

The ABI other partners also recognise the value of affiliation to the principal professional body in the investigation and litigation support sector:

COURTSDESK SEARCHER is an on-demand search for court cases, or parties involved in court cases, in England and Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

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