It is more than likely that private investigation has existed in some form for centuries, even though the first known agency wasn’t founded until 1833.
In fact, it’s easy to argue that private investigation happens everywhere, in a variety of situations. If you look back in time to medieval England and events like the witchcraft trials, it’s likely that some level of ‘private investigation’ – however crude and entangled with mass hysteria and public opinion – helped convict suspected ‘witches’.
In fact, back in those days, public shamings practices were often inspired by information received from the general population. And while idle tittle-tattle will have added plenty of fuel to the fire, such traditions are reflective of one of the many truths of man – we have always fancied ourselves as capable detectives. We are a naturally suspicious species, and we don’t like to lose face. Accusations of ‘naivety’ and ‘gullibility’ are insults, or at least they certainly are in Western cultures, so for most of us, it pays to do a bit of research and educated guesswork before we idly believe something we have been told.
However, it’s important not to reduce private investigation to something born out of gossip and the everyman’s wish to catch out a deceptive or unscrupulous individual. Ever since that first agency was created back in 1833, the techniques and practices of skilled Private Detectives have evolved and improved, and work undertaken by Investigators has made a contribution to some extremely important cases and events – both criminal and domestic.