ABI Awards Process – Part 1
The annual awards presented at the AGM are known to all members, the process of what goes on behind the scenes in deciding who should receive each award is known by few. Therefore member of the GC, Greg Gillespie, spoke to Awards Chairman Dave Crawford to find out how it all works. In part 1, Dave explains how he first got involved in the investigation industry.
Greg: Before we start looking at the ABI awards, may I start by asking what your background is and how you got involved in the industry?
Dave: I was originally employed back in April 1974 by my local Council as a housing trainee. I part qualified in Housing Management in May 1976. However, in June 1978 I became a police officer and served in Durham Constabulary for 13years. I first worked in the Peterlee area of County Durham, which is predominantly a mining community and looking back there were some quite interesting times especially with the miner’s strike in 1984. After nine years I then moved to Durham City which saw me working as what is called the City beat. It meant I had responsibility with all the businesses in and around the City Centre from a policing perspective. I worked in Durham for four years before I left the Police and started self-employed work for a private security consultancy firm in London.
I worked as an undercover operative for this firm which had large multi-international clients. I won’t say who these clients were but they are well known household names. I did this for another four years with one case taking a total of fourteen months working in the client’s company.
Greg: So, this wasn't covert surveillance, this was working “in plain sight” as it were but with the objective of gathering information and intelligence on behalf of the client?
Dave: Absolutely, yeah. I’d be embedded within a workforce with the task of gathering the relevant information and providing intelligence reports relative to the case objectives. The organisation would’ve had the extensive security measures you’d expect such as cameras, security guards, metal detection and internal accounts and auditing etc. but there might have been a very small percentage of shrinkage that couldn’t be accounted for. It was only about 1% or less but for a large multinational company that is a lot of stuff. It was more about finding out how it was going missing rather than who was taking it.
It was really about analysing internal systems from the bottom looking up to find the opportunities for items to be taken as well as looking at the people involved. After doing this type of work for four years I decided I’d like to work for myself rather than for anyone else and felt I’d got enough experience and was ready for a new challenge. I set up Crawford investigations in 1994.
Greg: What is it that you do now and how would you describe Crawford investigations? Both when you first started in 1994 and now?
Dave: Well, it's been a journey, if I'm honest. Because of the background I had, I started being instructed as what you would call a professional witness. I worked with virtually every Council in the northeast and many elsewhere doing undercover operations. By that time, I had developed a cover story from working in different warehouses from previous tasks, which gave credibility to my services and obviously I had a background in housing and the police which also helped give my services credibility.
One aspect of this type of work was working with local authorities or housing associations in order to identify anti-social behaviour. This was rather than the authorities having to rely on a local resident, who may have been fearful of pointing the finger. I or a member of my team would go in and live on a ‘targeted’ estate for a period of time in order to gather the necessary evidence which would then be passed on to the police or used in civil actions.
Greg: That sounds like quite an interesting line of work. I imagine that it’s also quite a niche service to offer in the private sector as well?
Dave: Yes it is. I got involved in it because I understood how it worked and there was a very specific demand for those services so it made sense to provide it as part of Crawford Investigations. We were heavily involved in this type of work for about five years but we also had other general investigation clients at that time as well. Like with most things, Council budgets were cut so over time the demand for these services was reduced but as this market place shrunk my surveillance work was increasing. I worked with a well known national provider which saw me travelling up and down the country. As I said, it’s been a journey.
This interview was conducted with Dave Crawford. To find out more about Crawford Investigations please visit the website for more information: www.crawfordinvestigations.co.uk