Private Investigator in Action

Private investigators worldwide play a role in public investigations and prosecutions. Their expertise in evidence collection, surveillance techniques, and vast interview experience enables them to uncover crucial information that can strengthen legal cases. In Serbia, most private investigators come from the public sector, including armed forces and intelligence agencies. While their experience in investigation operations and extensive network of sources are definite advantages, some challenges, such as inflexibility, lack of corporate culture, and a lenient approach toward meeting deadlines, need to be addressed. Additionally, the practice of offering their services for a symbolic price due to retirement benefits affects the market value and competitiveness of the profession.

Private detectives transitioning from the public sector pose a significant threat to formal communication between governmental bodies and detective agencies, ultimately disrupting the establishment of a practice in which it is entirely expected for private detectives to liaise with the appropriate state authorities and institutions when seeking information by the law. This covert relationship of obtaining information under the radar remains hidden, impacting public sector officials by leading them to perceive such requests as unlawful and information disclosure as a privilege. Regrettably, there is no entity to which private detective agencies can turn in the event of unjustified administrative silence. This lack of transparency perpetuates an environment of uncertainty and hinders the effective functioning of both the public and private investigative sectors that can benefit from each other.

Licensing, Certification, and Training for Private Investigators in Serbia

In Serbia, private investigators are required to obtain a license to practice legally. This legislation sets the licensing and certification requirements framework, ensuring that only qualified individuals can operate as private investigators. However, there are instances where unlicensed individuals engage in investigation operations, which poses reputational burdens on the profession and raises concerns about the potential breach of criminal and privacy laws.

It is crucial to enforce strict licensing requirements to address this issue and ensure that only qualified individuals with the necessary training and expertise can practice as private investigators. Additionally, ongoing professional development and training programs should be established to enhance the skills and knowledge of licensed investigators.

Challenges in Information Exchange between Private Investigators and the Government Bodies

One of the significant challenges private investigators face in Serbia is the lack of effective communication and information exchange with the police department and other state authorities. The public sector often exhibits unfamiliarity with the Law on Private Investigation of the Republic of Serbia, leading to difficulties obtaining essential information required for investigations. This lack of understanding and cooperation hampers the progress of investigations and delays the delivery of results.

To address these challenges, it is crucial to establish an independent body that serves as a liaison between private investigators and the police department. This body would facilitate information exchange and address cases where the police or other institutions refuse to release information requested by law. Additionally, it would help regulate the market and ensure that only licensed private investigators operate in the field, protecting clients’ interests and maintaining the profession’s integrity.

The Risks of Unlicensed Private Investigators and Espionage

The presence of unlicensed private investigators poses significant risks to both individuals and the state. Unlicensed detectives may engage in activities that breach criminal and privacy laws, potentially harming individuals and compromising critical industries and infrastructure. In the absence of effective regulation and oversight, freelancers can cause severe damage and jeopardize national security.

To mitigate these risks, the Serbian government must take proactive measures to improve the management and regulation of private investigation activities. Strengthening the supervision of private investigators under the Ministry of Interior and implementing stricter licensing requirements can help weed out unlicensed individuals and ensure that only qualified professionals operate in the field.

Improving Transparency and Professionalism in the Private Investigation Industry

Transparency in billing and pricing policies is crucial to the private investigation industry. Unfortunately, both unlicensed individuals and some licensed private investigators in Serbia lack clarity in their billing practices, leading to client reluctance and a preference for hiring investigators from EU countries. This impacts the reputation of local investigators and hampers the industry’s growth. Developing a standardized billing and pricing policy that promotes transparency and professionalism is essential.

Moreover, language proficiency is another area that needs improvement. Many local private investigators lack basic knowledge of the English language, making it difficult to communicate and collaborate with foreign colleagues. Enhancing language skills will enable Serbian private investigators to engage in international cases and ensure effective communication with clients and partners worldwide.

The Role of the Serbian Association of Private Investigators

The Serbian Association of Private Investigators has the potential to play a crucial role in improving the profession and cleaning the market of fake investigators. However, the Association has been inactive recently and lacks an active membership application feature. To harness the collective potential of private investigators in Serbia, the Association must revitalize its operations and provide a platform for all investigators to participate, share experiences, and address industry-related issues. The association should actively engage with its members, organize training programs, and advocate for implementing best practices and ethical standards. By fostering a sense of community and collaboration, the association can contribute to the professional growth and development of private investigators in Serbia. By fostering a collaborative environment, the association can address challenges, share best practices, and work towards advancing the profession.

Aligning Legislation to Ensure Consistency and Effectiveness

While Serbia has a firm Law on Private Investigation, there are inconsistencies with other relevant laws, such as the Law on Personal Data Protection. These contradictions can create legal ambiguities and hinder the effective regulation of the private investigation industry. Significant amendments and revisions are necessary to address this issue to ensure coherence and compatibility between different laws.

Relevant stakeholders, including private investigators, legal experts, and government officials, should collaborate to identify and rectify these inconsistencies. This collaborative effort will result in a more robust legal framework that supports the ethical and effective practice of private investigation in Serbia.

Recommendations for Improvements

  • Strengthening the legal framework – Amendments to the Law on Detective Activity should address discrepancies and ensure consistency with other relevant laws, such as the Law on Personal Data Protection, Labor Law, and other regulations.
  • Collaboration with the public sector – Establishing mechanisms for cooperation between private investigators and the public sector is crucial. Practices observed in Western countries, where collaboration is common, should serve as a guide for developing effective protocols and procedures.
  • Active involvement of the Serbian Association of Private Investigators – The association should actively engage private investigators, provide opportunities for participation, and serve as a platform for addressing industry-wide issues. Regular meetings, seminars, and training sessions can facilitate knowledge sharing and professional development.
  • Emphasizing professionalism and ethical conduct – The association should enforce its Code of Ethics and promote adherence among all private investigators. The profession’s reputation can be enhanced by maintaining high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct.


Private investigators play a crucial role in Serbia’s security and legal system, assisting private parties in gathering evidence, conducting investigations, and strengthening legal cases. However, the industry faces various challenges, including unlicensed investigators, difficulties in information exchange with the police and other state institutions, and a lack of transparency in billing and pricing practices.

To overcome these challenges and promote the professionalism and effectiveness of private investigators in Serbia, developing a comprehensive legal framework that addresses licensing, certification, training, information exchange, and industry standards is essential. By doing so, Serbia can ensure the integrity of the private investigation industry and enhance its contribution to the legal system and public safety.

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