The private investigator, or private detective, has the duty to respect the code of ethics of private security activities.

Code of ethics of private investigators

Private investigators have, since the beginning of the profession, been listed among private security professionals because detective agencies often exercised, at the beginning of the 19th century, in both the private investigation activity, and the private security activity, united under the term private police.

Private investigators, private security professionals

Private investigators are not organized in an order, like other regulated professions such as lawyers or doctors.
Also, the control of the profession is realized an independent authority: the CNAPS, National Council of the private activities of security.

This public body, directly from the Ministry of the Interior, was created in September 2010 and took office on 1 January 2012 to supervise all private security professions in France.

He notably drafted the Code of Ethics for natural or legal persons exercising private security activities, officially created by Decree No. 2012-870 of July 10th 2012.

The ethical rules of the private investigator

Although the profession has always adhered to a certain code of ethics, the code of ethics of private investigators, codified by Decree No. 2014-1253 of October 27th, 2014 in the Internal Security Code, Regulatory Part, Book VI Title III, Chapter I, Articles R631-1 to R631-31.

The basic points of the ethics of private detectives are as follows.

Respect for the fundamental interests of the Nation and the secrecy of business

Article R631-28 prohibits any mission that would be contrary to:

“Fundamental interests of the Nation and the secrecy of business (…) in particular in scientific, industrial, commercial, economic, financial or national defense.”

In case of doubt about a mission, it is customary to bring it closer to the French secret services.

Professional secret

Professional secrecy is one of the major points of the code of ethics of private detectives. Article R-631-9 of the code of ethics of private investigators, entitled “Confidentiality” indicates that:

“(…) private security actors respect the strict confidentiality of the information, technical procedures, and uses of which they are aware in the context of their activity.”

Obligation to advise

Services offered by a private investigator must respect the interests of the client and remain proportionate to his needs, as reported in Article R631-20.

Obligation of transparency on outsourcing

Article R631-23 recalls that it is mandatory to mention the use of subcontracting, including private collaborators, in a private detective warrant contract.

Writing a mandatory mandate contract

Article R631-30 provides that a contract must be signed by the parties, in order to define in a precise manner the framework of the mission and the “conditions and means of execution of the service”.

Ethics monitoring bodies of the private investigator

Two organizations are in charge of the control of the deontology of private detectives:

•    The CNAPS, as part of its disciplinary mission, is in charge of monitoring compliance with the code of ethics of private security activities
•     The Defender of Rights is also in charge of the “respect of the deontology of the security professionals”.

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