Institute for NZ’s private eyes to get name change

New Zealand Security Magazine - December 2021

NZIPI set to focus on 'Private Investigators'. [Detail of image by Keiteu Ko on Unsplash]

NZIPI Chairman Ron McQuilter talks licensing change, name change, membership change and website change at the Institute, and the election of a first-ever Life Member.

NZIPI’s Annual General Meeting, which took place on Thursday 25 November, saw a number of key developments, not least a decision to return the Institute to its former name, the New Zealand Institute of Private Investigators.

Speaking exclusively to NZSM, NZIPI Chairman Ron McQuilter noted that the change was driven largely by a recent determination by the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority (PSPLA) that employment investigators should be licensed under the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010(PSPPI Act).

As reported by NZSM, a decision from the PSPLA in June 2020 ([2020] NZPSLA 007) concluded that a company investigating a case of workplace misconduct had breached the PSPPI Act because its investigators were not appropriately licensed during their investigation. 

Despite this finding, the company avoided prosecution due to the PSPLA concluding that “any breach was inadvertent and a result of the widespread belief within the employment investigation industry that they were not private investigators.”

Nevertheless, the finding has clarified the confusion over whether or not employment investigators are in fact private investigators. As a result, NZIPI has since been receiving applications for membership from employment investigators, prompting the Institute to hit the ‘re-set’ button and re-orientate itself as an organisation for ‘private investigators’ as defined in the PSPPA Act.

In a related change, states Ron, the Institute’s rules have been changed to require that a member holds a PSPLA-issued license in the Private Investigator class. Those applying for membership of NZIPI will therefore now need to evidence that they hold a license in order to meet this new requirement.

The change creates a conflict with the PSPLA website, which lists “evidence that you’re a member of the NZ Institute of Professional Investigators” as an example of evidence of competency for those looking to apply for a security license in the Private Investigator class. NZIPI has informed the PSPLA of this.

With NZIPI’s membership set to diversify with the addition of appropriately licensed employment investigators (and potentially others), Ron explained that the Institute will look to reflect the professional specialisations of its members with the creation of new special interest groups.

Non-licensed ‘in-house’ investigators and trainee investigators will likely be moved to new associate membership categories. “We’re going to have a massive revamp of the website to show the different types of people who require the license now,” said Ron.

With the changed membership requirements, NZIPI is conscious of the challenge of attracting new people into the profession and will work on this over the coming year. “We need new entrants, there’s a dire shortage of private investigators,” Ron added.

In other NZIPI news, the Institute has elected a Life Member for the first time in its history. “Last September Mike Campbell was granted the Institute’s first ever Life Membership,” said Ron. Mike is a foundation member. Having served on the NZIPI Executive for many years, he is a former Detective Senior Sergeant with the NZ Police and a highly respected investigator.