A Day In The Life Of A Surveillance Investigator has been written because the realities of the job can be very different to what many people might imagine. It is difficult to know the expectations that people have when looking at a career as a Surveillance Investigator but it is vital that you know what would be expected from you before you embark on a new career. What would you expect to do during the course of a days surveillance? It is not all about following the target, there is much to do before and after all of that takes place. To that end we thought that it would be useful for those looking to become a Surveillance Investigator to have an awareness of what our day often consists of. We have said this before but we will say it again, this is a normal day for us, you may well do things differently and that is absolutely fine, you are more than welcome to tell us about your day so that others may well benefit. As ever, please just comment professionally so that we can all learn from your thoughts.
A typical Surveillance Investigation timeframe:
1800: Prep Kit
Kit is always prepared but there are final preparations that a professional surveillance investigator will carry out and this is when those last minute adjustments take place. We would start by confirming that all batteries are charged to their maximum, that the date and time is synced across all camcorders and that we have enough personal equipment (clothing/wash kit) to last you if the task gets extended. Is your vehicle fuelled to the maximum? Have you inserted new cards into your various recording devices? Are your radios checked and tested and have you cleaned your windows? The list goes on but you’ll become very adept very quickly at sorting your kit and equipment out prior to deploying on task but do not rush it or you will make a mistake that you may end up regretting whilst on task.
1900: Check task details
Have we got all of the details from our client? We could be working direct to commercial clients or business owners, insurance companies, legal clients such as a solicitor, a local government organisation, a private investigator working agent to agent or a private client on a personal or business related matter. Have we identified any anomalies within the intelligence that we have been provided with? Is there any information that we are lacking? Do we need to prepare information to pass on to other team members? If so, in what format?
Check and test, check and test…just a final “have I got everything” moment before you can come down to 9/10th readiness and relax a little.
2200: Route check
Are there any overnight road closures? This can be catastrophic so make sure that you check – always!
Obviously travel time varies but we are always early on task – always! We would rather be an hour early than 1 minute too late. If you are working with people for the first, in fact anytime, they will not accept your excuse for being late. It is unacceptable in almost every instance, doing it twice is probably an unrecoverable error.
0545: Arrive area of the surveillance
Meet the team, communications checks, confirm details, clear up any issues, assign tasks, brief on the mission and get on target.
0600: Observations commence
1700: Observations desist, post-operation RV with team
At this point we ensure that all information (evidence) is gathered from the team and then head home. No matter how tough the day has been you must grip yourself at this point and ensure that you pay great attention to detail. During this team RV we will iron out anything that we need to and discuss any issues that may have arisen throughout the day. If things could have been done better it is at this point that we will deal with it as there is no point in letting any bad feeling linger. Discuss it, get it over with and move on to the next job which may well be tomorrow! Note: This is NOT a finger pointing session, more of a constructive learning process for everyone. Surveillance is a TEAM GAME, we win as a team and we lose as a team.
2000: Return home address
Family must come first, personally speaking we would always make some time for those waiting for us back at home but deadlines are deadlines and we always make them. So, have an hour with the kids/Mrs/Mr and then crack on with what comes next. Ensure that your client gets the turnaround that you have promised them or they will go elsewhere and who can blame them?
Possibly the most ferocious part of the day for a surveillance investigator and one that must be 100% correct. Absolutely no errors. Sometimes this period can go on all night, it all depends on the task but rarely will it take less than 2hrs per job per day. If you are a team member then it is highly unlikely that you will be doing this and that is something that you should bear in mind. You may have had a long day on the ground but someone else is having a much longer one than you!
So it is time for bed, unless you are on task the next day and then you will have to do some kit prep as per the previous evening. The process outlined above can and often does go on for days on end and sometimes much longer. It can be exhausting, it may sound like a grind but if you have it in you then you will love it, if you do not then you will break very quickly.
This is a typical day, nothing here is embellished, it can be extremely demanding, we’ve run like this for weeks on end, often not returning home during that time, staying in hotels, running a 6+ person team but always, always delivering for our client on the deadline that we have promised. We have not visited our private investigator durham office for weeks on end however we are renowned for our turnaround time, we will not be beaten in this area but you have to get the product whilst on task and be able to present it from wherever you are or there will be nothing to send your client. Is this a pressurised way of making a living? Absolutely 100% but what is life without pressure?
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