An investigation can be described as a comprehensive and methodological effort to obtain information. The business of investigations is about efficient amassing and dissemination of information. The entire purpose and product of an investigation is information.
There are two security-based categories of investigations; public law enforcement investigations and private investigations.
Public law enforcement investigations are investigations made by government agencies and law enforcement agents, such as the Police. They conduct investigations as they perform their duties of enforcing laws and keeping the public safe. The police works within the confines of the Constitution and is restricted to criminal investigations. The goal of criminal investigations is to verify if a crime has been committed, determine who is responsible, as well as, assemble adequate evidence to present to a prosecutor so that a trial can be done.
Private investigations, on the other hand, are conducted by private citizens, who are trained investigators. Private investigators work for private security companies, corporations, individuals and groups. Their work is dictated by their clients' needs. Although all private investigators have some sort of training, the skills level varies from simple guard activities to sophisticated corporate security management and cyber-crime investigation.
Both public law enforcement investigators and private investigators are responsible for investigation management. Investigation management is a process that includes; the organization and control of a set of interconnected events, the collection and assessment of information, the analysis of evaluated information, the drawing of hypothesis, the drawing of conclusions, and finally, the action is taken. Throughout the entire process, information is the center of focus.
Types of private investigations include; insurance, corporate investigations, domestic cases and cyber-investigations e.g. forensic computer examination, wireless network security, network intrusion, email tracing. Others are criminal defense investigations; security such as safety protection, celebrity protection, hotel detectives; legal investigations e.g. when hired by attorneys, as well as, political and discovery assignments.
Documentation, effective communication and team work are necessary skills in private investigations. A private investigator should have the training and skills to initialize and prioritize an investigation.
In conclusion, while private investigators are not constrained by certain constitutional restraints that apply to public law enforcement investigators, such as the Miranda warning prior to giving a statement, they are nevertheless subject to the laws of the country. They have to abide by the federal, state and local laws that apply to the profession. In addition, they also have to be mindful of other legal issues that may relate to the field and their client.