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Private Investigator Surveillance –  Where Can a Private Investigator  Legally Take Pictures?


Surveillance is usually a private investigator’s main information source. Ask most members of the public about where a private investigator , or anyone else for that matter, is able to legally take pictures of people and you’ll likely get a range of different responses. So, in order to answer the question about private investigator surveillance, we need to take a closer look at what the law says.


By reading on, you’ll know exactly where a private investigator  is able to take pictures and the nuanced guidelines that need to be adhered to. The fact is that different rules apply in certain circumstances, so it’s important that the professional in question understands the differences. There can also be different rules in different state of Australia which can add to the confusion.


Public Spaces Are Fine – As a Rule of Thumb


Generally speaking, when taking photographs in public areas, no permission of any kind is required, irrespective of whether capturing images of buildings, land or people. Anyone who comes up to you in a public area and demands that you don’t take pictures of them has no leg to stand on. In fact, they don’t usually even have a say in how that image is used. So when a private investigator is doing surveillance in the field, what we can film is open slather – a private investigator can film anything they like.


That said, in these public areas, there may also be more specific laws that should be observed. For instance, there was a well-known case in Sydney in 2015 where the famous artist Ken Done was approached by park rangers in the Sydney CBD that led to all commercial photography being banned in all parks in the city. Obviously, this only applies in Sydney, which is why local knowledge of any Australian city can be important. But other than unusual cases like this a private investigator is free to film from anywhere defined as public.


What About Private Spaces?


So, what happens if a private investigator  is required to take pictures of someone while they’re on private land? What then? The laws governing this situation are pretty clear, as it is legal to take pictures of someone in a private location on the proviso that you’re not trespassing. A clear line of sight needs to exist between the private detective and the photo’s subject. So if a person is on there own property and the private investigator is hidden in a car on the street, they can film what ever they can see. Picture an insurance claimant who claims to have a bad back and the investigator sees him mowing the front lawn and emptying grass clippings, indicating that his injuries aren’t as severe as he makes out them to be. This is a common occurrence for private investigator surveillance.


A private investigator can even take pictures of a person whilst inside their house as long as they aren’t trespassing. There is a term called ‘perceived privacy’ which means that if you are in your house with the curtains and blinds open for the world to see you, then there is no perceived privacy.  Private investigator surveillance in this situation is totally fine. The received privacy laws really only relate to hidden cameras in bathrooms etc and are not the domain of what a private investigator films anyway.


How Can These Photographs Be Used?


Australia’s Privacy act is what governs how these types of pictures can be used. The law states that they are permitted to be published on the internet or otherwise, so long as they’re not deemed to be abusive, indecent or in violation of any of the laws we mentioned above.


Any good private investigator  will know that failure to adhere to these rules will mean that the person in question has the full weight of the law behind them. Needless to say, anyone conducting surveillance needs to know these laws chapter and verse. A private investigator won’t trespass though so our images and video footage are always able to be used for a legal case.


Totally Legal, Reputable Private Investigator  Services


A reputable private detective agency  will know laws like these inside out, because modern firms know how important it is to follow them. That’s one of the great things of using PI firms, as they’re able to remain within the law while finding you the information you need – whether talking about insurance fraud, infidelity or neighbour disputes. Great peace of mind indeed.


If you would like to know more about anything more about private investigator surveillance, please visit us today at and take a look around our main site. There you’ll also see our full range of services designed to help with a range of legal, personal and commercial matters.


To speak to us directly about your needs, call us today in our Surfers Paradise Gold Coast office on 07 5646 9706. Our expert team is ready and waiting to give you the guidance you require.