As the largest PI firm in the country and our Managing Director, Ron McQuilter being the Chairman of NZIPI we have been asked by other PI’s and many clients about the availability of services during the various levels of the Covid lockdown.
Security services were deemed an essential service from the get go, and our work in that area could continue without question. The quandary was whether investigative services were able to continue. This was not a straightforward question, because the work encompasses both the criminal and the civil spheres.
Criminal work is typically the domain of police, but PI’s are often at the beginning of the matter, subsequently referring a case to police. One PI called us to ask if he was able to still interview an offender stealing from a pharmacy in level 4?. This was a grey area, was it essential?, was it urgent? were lives at risk? and could actions be put in place to stop the offending, until a lower level.
Likewise, in civil matters, we had to make an assessment of each potential action and decide if the work to be performed met the “essential services” test.
The government could not be expected to give a determination on every business type, and so it was up to the PI’s themselves to work out when they might be ‘essential services” or not, and what movements they could take, accepting that appropriate PPE was worn at all times. If a matter was not essential, then it needed to be put on hold.
During the Covid levels to date, Paragon has averaged 65% of work compared to the same time last year. It’s nowhere near business as usual, but there is no doubt that Private Investigation is at certain times an essential service.