How To Choose A Private Investigator – Breaking Down The Myths

It’s getting exhausting now but chances are if you’re watching a Private Investigator go about their job in a TV drama or film then it is far from a realistic example of what a Private Investigator really does – or actually can do.

The latest example has been JK Rowling’s very popular drama series, Strike, on BBC1.

There you have the lead character – a dysfunctional but brilliant PI with “issues” and the stereotypical trench-coat, dirty office and glass door with his name etched on it – doing whatever it takes to secure the leads needed to ‘break the case wide open’, etc. He’s breaking into places and stealing evidence whenever the need or the plot requires it.

The truth of Surmount Investigations’ jobs – and the profession as a whole – is a lot less ‘easy’ and entertaining.

We don’t / can’t beat people up to gain information, recover money or scare them away. We don’t trespass, break and enter or root through your bins in the dead of night. We aren’t anti-police, looked down on by them or work against them – They’re often a great asset to us and what we do.

We handle information and data in just the same lawfully compliant way as any large organisation tied to Data Protection Laws. We can use GPS Trackers (there are regulations and stipulations that have to be followed to make the use lawful though!). And we aren’t ‘lone wolves’ – Surmount frequently work in partnership with others on a consultancy basis (HR departments, Open Source specialists, other PI’s, local authorities, etc.)

There ARE bad PIs out there and they’re probably closer in line to where TV writers and the like mine their characters and plots from. The hard truth though is that they’re of no reliable use to you in the real world.

You’ll be able to spot them easily enough. We like to call them the ‘Gumtree Gumshoes’.


  • They have a cheap-looking website littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • They only market on ‘free sites’ with nothing but a mobile and a Hotmail/Gmail address
  • They’re uninsured
  • They work to uncapped hourly rates and uncapped expenses that they struggle to easily define.
  • They don’t have Professional Indemnity insurance or are a member of any associated body.
  • They act above the law
  • They’re not ICO regulated and therefore aren’t commissioned to legally handle confidential data.

At Surmount Investigations we pride ourselves on being ethical, legal, regulated and professional problem-solvers. We say the same thing to every prospective clients we meet with – There’s no point gathering evidence illegally because there’s nothing legal you can do with it.

We might not make exciting television on a Sunday night or whatever. But we deliver exciting results.