Private Security & Investigative Services Act, 2005
Private Security & Investigative Services
Training & Testing
Private Investigator Test Preparation Guide
Section 2 - The Private Security & Investigative Services Act, 2005 (PSISA)
Private investigators must be familiar with the PSISA to ensure they follow the regulations and prohibitions, including the Code of Conduct.
Here are some of the key points that affect individual licensees directly.
In order to be eligible for a private investigator licence, all individuals must:
- Have completed the required training and testing.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Possess a clean criminal record, according to the Clean Criminal Record Regulation (note: not all criminal charges or convictions will prevent a person from obtaining a private investigator licence. See below for more information on the Clean Criminal Record Regulation).
- Be legally entitled to work in Canada.
People who apply for a private investigator licence will be required to show proof that they meet all of these requirements. If they are not eligible for a private investigator licence, their application will not be processed. For more information about the identification requirements consult the ministry website.
General Rules and Standards of Practice
These are some of the rules that private investigators must be mindful of during their day-to-day activities. They can be found between sections 34 and 40 of the PSISA.
- Private investigators must always carry their licence with them when they are working. They must also identify themselves as private investigators, and show their licence, if a member of the public asks them to do so. However, these requirements only apply to people holding themselves out as private investigators. This means that individuals performing an undercover investigation are not required to carry or show their licence (particularly if it would endanger them or jeopardize the investigation).
- Private investigators are prohibited from carrying any symbol of authority, other than their licence (for example, a metal badge is prohibited).
- Private investigators are prohibited from holding themselves out as police officers, or performing police-related duties. For this reason, they are also prohibited from using the following words when referring to their work as private investigators:
- Detective or Private Detective.
- Law Enforcement.
In addition to the PSISA, there are several regulations which govern private investigators. Many of these regulations apply strictly to employers. However, individual licensees should be familiar with the regulations, particularly those that affect them directly:
Code of Conduct
This regulation defines what kind of behavior is appropriate or inappropriate for private investigators to display while they are working. Private investigators will find that respecting the Code of Conduct is, in most cases, a matter of common sense – private investigators are expected to treat members of the public in a respectful and professional manner. For instance, private investigators must:
- Act with honesty and integrity.
- Comply with all federal, provincial and municipal laws.
- Treat all persons equally (without discrimination).
- Avoid using profanity or abusive language.
- Avoid using excessive force.
- Not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while working.
Eligibility to Hold a Licence – Clean Criminal Record
This regulation lists a series of criminal offences which are prescribed under the PSISA. Persons who have been convicted of one of these offences and have not received a pardon are not eligible for a private investigator licence, and any application they submit cannot be processed.
Persons who have been convicted of or charged with an offence that does not appear in this regulation may be eligible for a licence. The Private Security and Investigative Services Branch (PSISB) will need to review their file to determine if any restrictions should apply. The applicant may be given an opportunity to be heard in order to discuss their case.
Members of the public may file a public complaint against any licensed individual or licensed company if they feel that a violation of the PSISA or its regulations has been committed.
Public complaints can lead to facilitation. As well, the PSISB may investigate the matter and as a result, charges may be laid against the licensee, a warning may be issued, or the licence may be revoked.
Penalties for Contravening the Act
Individuals found guilty of an offence under the PSISA could face a fine of up to $25,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. As such, it is crucial that private investigators comply with all aspects of the PSISA and its regulations to avoid the possibility of being named in a complaint or facing charges.