Unit 1: What is Surveillance?

Hello, Firstly thank you for purchasing this course, I am sure it will be of great interest for you and may even help you in the long run whether you’re a professional investigator, a worried parent or someone looking to gain some truth on a certain aspect of your life.

By continuing with this course you are agreeing that all course content will be used for your own personal use and for educational purposes. Spearhead Compliance Training cannot be held responsible for any illegal actions conducted by the learner.

All private investigators or any individual who wishes to gather personal data MUST BE registered with the Information Commissioners Office and have a DPA number.  It is a criminal offense to process data and not have a DPA number.


What is surveillance?surveillance1

  • Surveillance is the continuous watching or listening (Overtly or Covertly) of people, vehicles, places or objects in order to obtain information concerning the activities and identities of individuals
  • There are 3 types of surveillance, Overt, Covert and Intrusive. For the purpose of this course Electronic Surveillance can come under all 3 types
  • Covert Surveillance – Covert surveillance occurs when someone or something is being observed without knowledge. People who are under surveillance are most often under suspicion. Locations and buildings are primarily observed because of suspicious activity or to obtain information about a suspect.Covert surveillance – is generally performed by government agencies, private investigators or business owners. Intelligence organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States and the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service, also called MI6, participate in surveillance to obtain information for national security interests such as counter terrorism. Law enforcement agencies such as the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) also perform surveillance. They concentrate on observing suspected criminals.Private investigators perform covert surveillance for a variety of reasons. Husbands and wives hire private investigators to prove or disprove suspected infidelity. Businesses hire private investigators to observe employees who are suspected of fraudulent activities or former employees that may be breaking confidentiality agreements. Insurance companies are notorious for using private investigators to put claimants under surveillance to ensure they are not submitting a fraudulent claim.
  • Overt Surveillance – The opposite of covert, this occurs where adequate notice has been given to the subject of the surveillance and the subject is aware that he/she is being monitored. For example shopping centre CCTV systems are in plain sight and also signs are in place stating that CCTV is in operation. This method of surveillance is used as a deterrent.
  • Intrusive Surveillance -Intrusive surveillance is any surveillance which is carried out in relation to anything which takes place in residential premises or private vehicles and involves the covert presence of an individual on the premises. Private investigators or surveillance operatives may not carry out any operation that could be described as “intrusive surveillance”, and must never enter a person’s home either covertly or without permission.

Electronic Surveillance

icon_surveillance_0Electronic Surveillance is observing or listening to persons, places, or activities—usually in a secretive or unobtrusive manner—with the aid of electronic devices such as cameras, microphones, tape recorders, or wire taps, hardware and software. The objective of electronic surveillance when used in law enforcement is to gather evidence of a crime or to accumulate intelligence about suspected criminal activity. Corporations use electronic surveillance to maintain the security of their buildings and grounds or to gather information about competitors.Three types of electronic surveillance are most prevalent: wire tapping, bugging, and videotaping. Wire tapping intercepts telephone calls and telegraph messages by physically penetrating the wire circuitry, this can also be achieved via software for mobile phones. Someone must actually “tap” into telephone or telegraph wires to accomplish this type of surveillance or gain access to the target device if a mobile phone. Bugging is accomplished without the aid of telephone wires, usually by placing a small microphone or other listening device in one location to transmit conversations to a nearby receiver and recorder. Video surveillance is performed by conspicuous or hidden cameras that transmit and record visual images that may be watched simultaneously or reviewed later on tape.

Electronic eavesdropping serves several purposes: (1) enhancement of security for persons and property; (2) detection and prevention of criminal, wrongful, or impermissible activity; and (3) interception, protection, or appropriation of valuable, useful, scandalous, embarrassing, and discrediting information. The law attempts to strike a balance between the need for electronic surveillance and the privacy interests of those affected, This is covered under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)