How to become a Private Investigator in Singapore
Influenced by numerous movies where the private investigator wearing a long trench coat will solve crimes in an effective and cool manner like Sherlock Holmes, me too decided to become one! And of course who can forget Batman, the world’s greatest private investigator.
First thing first, in Singapore where I am based you need a license to become a Private Investigator.
- Approval from the Singapore Police Force which you can apply at their portal at https://www.police.gov.sg/e-Services/Police-Licences/Private-Investigator-Licence.
- Fulfilling the training requirements by passing the “Perform investigation activities in compliance with legal requirement (PI)” module conducted by approved training providers like https://www.ntuclearninghub.com/course/information-collection-perform-investigation-activities-in-compliance-with-legal-requirements/
- A photo ID card that has to be applied in person at Union of Security of Employees (https://use.org.sg/). For some reason information is scarce in their website for this. Basically after fulfilling the above 2 pointers you go in person to their office and they will check and make a photo ID for you.
- SGD16.00 for the application to Singapore Police Force for the approval.
- SGD250.00++ for the training module, you can use Skillsfuture Credits to offset it if you have.
- SGD22.50 for the photo ID
1st requirement is to get the approval is pretty much straight-forward. As long as you do not have a criminal record (my guess), it will be approved by the Singapore Police Force and the application can be done online.
2nd requirement is the most time consuming. The mandatory course is a 6 days course. 5 days of theory and hands-on and assessment on the 6th day.
The theory covers procedures for info-collection, legal requirements, methods of storing info, investigation techniques, surveillance techniques, rules of disclosure and types of official proceedings.
As you can see, the theory portion do get dry and it is up to the instructor to spice up things. My instructor was a ex-policeman who became a PI. Thus he has many stories from his experience to share.
In a gist, it covers what you can do or cannot do as a Private Investigator and how you will prepare for testimony and submission of evidence in court.
Out of 5 days, 0.5 day as spent on a visit to the state court to view a proceeding and 0.5 day was hands-on like tailing a suspect and doing surveillance in a role play scenario.
In the final 6th day, an oral assessment conducted by a representative from POWEL a police co-operative society (https://polwel.org.sg/corporate-profile/). The assessment is recorded for audit purposes thus it is conducted in a fair and just manner. The questions will be asked from the theory materials so if you attended all the 5 days, you will be able to answer. Same for the role play scenarios and the answers related to that.
3rd requirement to physically go down to the Union of Security of Employees office and apply for the photo id. The status of the first 2 requirements is already updated in their system through the LicenseOne portal (https://licence1.business.gov.sg/web/frontier/home) which you can view too. This is the same portal you used to apply for approval in the 1st requirement. The assessment outcome is also updated there. Do check at home before going down. Mine took around 10 working days for the results to be reflected. Photo ID is done in the premises itself where your photo is also taken. You will get your Photo ID with the license number and it is valid for 5 years.
Congrats!! You have become a licensed Private Investigator!
Well, it was in my bucket list, so I ticked it off. It took me around 7 days to get the license. I think that the traditional surveillance and investigation techniques taught can also be used online for Cyber Threat Intelligence or Cyber Investigations or even for OSINT. Hopefully, I will be able to translate these techniques in the Cyber domain and the license will come in handy in the future.