We have no age bars at Answers Investigation - our youngest staff member is 18 and our oldest in their early 60's. Young people have skills and experiences that, working under supervision, are put to effect in research and undercover work, as well as our Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 programmes. All receive ongoing internal and external training to widen their skills
A key to achieving a succesful outcome for our clients is having access to a variety of resources, both human and physical. This will sometimes require presenting a 'face' that is beyond suspicion - and this is where our "younger set" excel. Don't be fooled into thinking these people don't have the right experience - all contribute skills and outlooks that - combined with the supervison of experienced Investigators - help make our teams a cut above the rest
As any parent knows, relationships with teenagers can have their difficulties. Communication becomes so important, but sometimes that communication breaks down and becomes unachievable. In some circumstances it is just not possible to bridge the gap and it is often then that an approach by someone of the same age band can provide the answers you need
Being young gives a wealth of opportunity for undercover roles - perhaps working in a company as a receptionist or on a factory floor in order to uncover wrongful practices on behalf of the employer. Who would suspect that the seemingly 18 year old office girl is in reality a Detective, employed to ascertain just who it is who is attempting to steal our client's database?
Undercover roles are sometimes taken to their extreme - if you are 18 and have acting ability it is quite easy to remember the anxieties of life you experienced at 15 - and to become that person, rising above suspicion; acting moody and disinterested while chewing your hair helps, too, as does the right hairstyle, absence of makeup and costuming. Having a sense of humour while people plaster embarrassing photographs around the office is also essential...
Many of our young people start with us under our Challenge 21 ! scheme, working for retailers and pub companies in the licensed trade to assess whether their ID checking policies are working. While a 16 year old can legally test purchase an outlet and purchase alcohol (or other products) while supervised by a Trading Standards Officer, we use people over the age of 18 - which is why we need them able to look or pass for younger
Every undercover role is different - whether it is posing as another Investigator's "assistant" or posing as a young same-sex couple in order to infiltrate a particular bar/club and hear (wired and using a body worn camera) what is being said. It helps to work closely with work friends who become personal friends ( we all are) - being able to interact closely is easy if you trust someone and feel safe
We have worked with internet issues for many years - experience which led the BBC News to approach us for help in planning and organising an expose of the dangers out there for teenagers and children talking on the net. Over the course of several weeks we talked to many men who contacted our "14 year old", eventually arranging a meeting - at which time the BBC invited a particular subject to be interviewed on camera. The results ( and arrest ) can be seen here
Our mix of people of all ages attracts its fair share of media interest - we are open about who we are and what we do, while remaining confidential about the matters we deal with. Examples of our younger people in the press, on radio, and on TV, such as the Brighton Argus, Isla's interview on BBC Radio or taking part in BBC documentaries can be seen on our media pages