The elusive relationships between corporate investigators and public law enforcement

CA Meerts

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference contributionAcademic


Question There are many interconnections between corporate investigators and law enforcement personnel, not in the least because many corporate investigators have a law enforcement background. Furthermore, their activities and skill sets overlap to a certain degree. One may expect that these circumstances provide a good background for solid cooperation – and occasional improper sharing of information – between public and private when it comes to investigations into employee misbehaviour. In practice, cooperation between the two is a challenge. This presentation takes a closer look at the interconnections between public and private in corporate investigations in the Netherlands. Methods This presentation is based on qualitative fieldwork, executed in the period between October 2012 and the present. 59 interviews were conducted with corporate investigators (32), law enforcement professionals (16) and clients (11). In addition, two six weeks full time observations have been conducted with a corporate investigations firm and with a security department within a large corporation. Finally, 21 case studies were selected for a dossier study of corporate cases. Results While cooperation and case sharing certainly exist, in most cases the involvement of law enforcement in corporate investigations is merely minor and many times there is no involvement at all. Interestingly, both sides seem to strive for better cooperation. In 2012 the Dutch ministry of safety and justice started a pilot to see whether there is room for better cooperation between the prosecution office and private investigators. Due to many factors this pilot led to disappointing outcomes, in spite of the seeming eagerness of both the public and private side. In this light, this presentation discusses the wishes both sides have when it comes to cooperation. Conclusions Whether or not private parties choose to involve law enforcement agencies depends on many factors, driven by both pragmatic and normative considerations. Once the decision is made to report an incident to the police, there are however still multiple reasons for cooperation to succeed or fail. One important factor seems to be (dis)trust between public and private. The views private investigators and law enforcement personnel entertain about one another are discussed in this light.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2016
EventAnnual conference of the European Society of criminology - Münster
Duration: 21 Sept 201624 Sept 2016


ConferenceAnnual conference of the European Society of criminology

Research programs

  • SAI 2005-04 MSS


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