Surveillance and matrimonial surveillance can be best defined as the close observation or scrutiny of an individual or corporate body. It is most recognisably conducted by the Police or Intelligence Agencies, however; it is also frequently utilised by Corporate Intelligence firms to gather evidence to support a criminal prosecution or Civil Litigation.

Conducted properly, it can be highly effective means of uncovering evidence to support an investigation; whether assisting with uncovering hidden assets, seeking evidence in cases of corporate fraud or malfeasance, or supporting a HNW matrimonial dispute.

Covert Surveillance

Covert Surveillance, as the name suggests, is carried out without the subject’s knowledge. Most commonly, this involves the deployment of undercover operatives . The number of operatives required for a task will depend upon the complexity of the operating environment and whether or not the subject is surveillance aware, i.e. they suspect they may be a target and take appropriate counter-measures. At one end of the spectrum, a complex scenario could involve observing someone in the centre of London utilising the tube and taxis to move around, whilst simultaneously checking to see if they were being followed, whereas a simple task could involve the observation of a subject in a remote rural location.

Covert Surveillance can be augmented with electronic surveillance measures, however; there is strict legislation governing their use. Unfortunately, modern films have created false expectations as to what can and cannot be achieved in this field and more often than not client expectations have to be managed to keep them the correct side of the law. In such instances, we work with the client to deliver a workable solution, i.e., whereas we may not be able to covertly record a meeting, we may be able to use a professional witness to provide a transcript of proceedings.

The key benefits of surveillance, include:

  • The speed at which information can be obtained.
  • The quality of information that can be gained due to proximity to the target .
  • It can be an incredibly cost effective means of gaining quick actionable intelligence, or leverage, to bring about a speedy resolution to a conflict.

At Matrix Intelligence we are able to deploy highly trained male and female former police, government and military trained operatives and can even deploy former police trained surveillance operatives who are also licenced black cab taxi drivers.

We operate internationally and all of our operations are conducted in full compliance with the current legislation and licensing requirements of the relevant jurisdiction. On completion of every task we submit a comprehensive report together will all recorded footage.

Surveillance in Corporate Fraud

Surveillance is a useful tool to help uncover cases of corporate fraud, or company employees conducting activities contrary to their employment status or against the best interests of their Employer. Common scenarios include:

  • Employees stealing and selling corporate assets, trade secrets and intellectual property.
  • Employees ‘moonlighting’ for a competitor.
  • Employees misusing company assets.
  • Fraudulent insurance & erroneous employment law claims.

If you suspect any of the above scenarios, Matrix Intelligence are able to act swiftly and with discretion to uncover the facts. We can help you to minimise your losses, obtain evidence to assist with asset recovery and the restoration of your brand reputation.

An example of our expertise in this field was proven when we were engaged by a FTSE 250 financial institution who tasked us to trace the whereabouts of one of their key employees. The individual was a senior Executive Director who had effectively disappeared for a number of days without any explanation and had worryingly ceased all communication. Aside from his personal well-being, they were concerned that he was in possession of highly sensitive information pertaining to a large ongoing trade.

Initially, using traditional investigative means, we quickly located the subject in a Monaco hotel. The client then requested that we monitor and assess his movements over a 5-day period.

Over that period, our multi-disciplined investigation including appropriate Surveillance enabled us to gather actionable evidence for our client, primarily and most importantly, that the subject had conducted several meetings with one of the clients main competitors. Furthermore, we also discovered that he was also divulging confidential and sensitive information, a clear breach of his contract, in an attempt to secure employment with the rival firm.

Our comprehensive evidential report was forwarded to the client, who, based on the investigations findings, immediately instructed their solicitors who instigated legal proceedings, which resulted in the client managing to salvage the ongoing trade initiative and avoiding potential reputational damage to them.

Matrimonial Surveillance 

Matrimonial matters are always sensitive and very often acrimonious and the need for absolute discretion in this area is paramount. Matrix Intelligence always act discreetly and above all, we protect client confidentiality at all times. Our services have proved invaluable in support of HNW Matrimonial disputes, especially in cases where one party has gone to considerable lengths to conceal their Assets and Lifestyle.

When one party suspects the other may be cheating, are considering Divorce proceedings, or are in the process of a divorce or a child custody battle, Matrix Intelligence can help to uncover actionable intelligence with matrimonial surveillance to support the case.

Limitations of Surveillance

Surveillance is generally governed by both The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and The Data Protection Act, however; reference to the following bodies and acts is also recommended: The 1998 Wireless Telegraphy Act, which covers the use of discreet or hidden recording devices and The Lawful Business Practice Regulations Act, which covers the monitoring of employee behaviour; typically computer and telephone usage.

RIPA came into force on the same day in 2000 as the Human Rights Act and provides a legal basis for various covert investigatory techniques, which limits and controls powers to record, monitor and gather information on members of the public and protect employee privacy.

Images of people are covered by the Data Protection Act, as is information about people which is derived from images, i.e. vehicle registration numbers. Most uses of CCTV by organisations or businesses will be covered by the Act.

It is imperative to note that the authorisation to use intrusive surveillance can only be given by the Home Secretary, a Chief Constable, the director of the National Crime Agency (Formerly The Serious Organised Crime Agency) or another designated official from NCA), designated officials from HM Revenue and Customs and the chairman of the Office of Fair Trading and is only a recourse for the Police and relevant Security Agencies. Corporate intelligence companies cannot operate in this arena.

Can Drones be employed to Conduct Surveillance?

Dispute their increasingly common use by paparazzi and private individuals, there are legal and ethical implications to consider if using a camera drone for surveillance. The most obvious concern is the privacy risk to other people – if a drone has a camera, its use has the potential to be covered by the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Guidance from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) recommends that users of drones with cameras should operate them in a responsible way to respect the privacy of others. Although a form of guidance, this is perhaps little more than wishful thinking by the Commissioner and the law governing drone surveillance needs tightening to bring it in line with Data Protection.

The prudent approach is to acknowledge that the UK is very clear and advanced in its approach to privacy rules and the protection of privacy. If all UK police forces have to be ‘Surveillance Camera Code Compliant‘ following Home Office regulatory guidance Pursuant to Section 30 (1) (a) of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, it would be folly not to operate within the same guidelines.

What to do if you think you are the target of Surveillance?

If an individual has reason to believe they may be under surveillance, or are concerned about activity such as:

  • A company merger or acquisition,
  • Protracted Divorce Proceedings or a Family Inheritance Dispute,
  • A possible company fraud,
  • Unwanted Media intrusion;

Matrix Intelligence can advise on the best strategy to counter this. By employing physical and electronic counter-surveillance practices, we will be able to ascertain whether or not you are under surveillance and ensure that the privacy of your business and personal life remains secure. If you are under surveillance, we may be able to ascertain who is conducting this and gather evidence to expose them or use as leverage.

Electronic Counter-Measures

As previously stated, the use of electronic surveillance devices is governed by strict legislation, however; that does not mean such devices are not easily and cheaply purchased online and used prolifically by unscrupulous actors. Examples of commonly utilised devices include: listening devices, covert/hidden cameras, vehicle tracking devices and Spyware on Phones, Tablets, PCs and Laptops.

Fortunately, Technical Counter Surveillance Measures, or ‘bug sweeping’, is a highly effective method of detecting this and it can be a relatively inexpensive process.

If you have cause for concern, we can rapidly deploy highly trained operatives with state of the art equipment to sweep your home, offices, car or electronic equipment.

Corporate Intelligence Experts

At Matrix we deliver reliable, actionable intelligence for a portfolio of clients, including: lawyers, third party funders, financial firms, corporate clients and HNW individuals.

We have managed to differentiate ourselves within a competitive environment by amassing considerable expertise in the provision of human intelligence (HUMINT).

From Pre-transactional or Financial Due Diligence, gathering intelligence to support and develop a litigation strategy to Multi-jurisdictional Asset Tracing, we pride ourselves on delivering bespoke solutions and have an outstanding track record of delivery.

Before accepting any case, we conduct a preliminary Investigation to ensure that our proposal is fully deliverable and accurately costed. Once instructed, we start by prioritising and phasing our work to ensure the most effective use of funds.

Whilst Headquartered in London, we operate internationally and have exceptional capabilities in Eastern Europe, all offshore banking jurisdictions, the Americas and select Middle Eastern and African countries. We have a worldwide network of trusted sources and partners and are internationally acknowledged as Corporate Intelligence experts.