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Calls to regulate private investigators after weekly’s conman exposé

Mark Hill-WoodA weekly newspaper’s exposé of a career con artist has led to calls for better regulation of private investigators.

An investigation by the Croydon Advertiser revealed prolific fraudster Mark Hill-Wood, left, was posing as an investigator while using bogus accreditations, paid-for testimonials and fake advertisements to appear legitimate.

As a result of the investigation by Advertiser chief reporter Gareth Davies, the Association of British Investigators has renewed its call to the government for proper regulation of the industry.

The government announced in July 2013 that private investigators would be required to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority, like security guards.  However, no legislation has yet been put in place.

The Advertiser found Hill-Wood, who has more than 50 convictions, has recently been operating under the name Marc Marshall.

Editor Andy Worden said: “Hill-Wood, under various names, is a career criminal with more than 50 convictions but is legally allowed to claim to be a private detective. Twenty-five years after his first conviction the Advertiser has shown he has no intention of ending his deception.

“The Government announced it would regulate private investigators but the statements given to us from the Home Office and Security Industry Association, nearly three years on, are far less definite. The Association of Brtish Investigators believe regulation would tackle unscrupulous individuals like Mark Hill-Wood.

“While not decisive, it would be an effective way for people to check whether the person they have turned to for help is genuine and, hopefully, prevent further victims of conmen like Hill-Wood, which was the purpose of our investigation.”

ABI general secretary Eric Shelmerdine said: “The Advertiser’s lengthy article demonstrates that, while there continues to be no regulation of our industry, the door remains open for any con artist to delete his past and then invent a new identity and competence in order to defraud. It is the perfect example of the need for regulation.”

ABI members, of which there are about 500, are required to have clean criminal records, professional indemnity cover and be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office as data controllers. However, there is currently no legal requirement for anyone describing themselves as a “private investigator” to adhere to regulation.

Mr Shelmerdine added: “At the moment the industry is wide open to abuse. Anyone could come out of prison and set up as a private investigator without breaking one UK law. They could have been convicted of child molestation, deception – it doesn’t matter. It’s a crazy situation.”

A Home Office spokesperson told the Advertiser regulation remains under consideration.


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  • February 22, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    We did it again …..what a team oh and thank you Parcel Post for knocking on his door.

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