A boutique intelligence & investigation agency with a true worldwide reach…

Established in 1977, we have decades of experience in individual and executive consultancy in civil, criminal and private matters. Our clients routinely benefit from receiving tangible results, leading to resolution & peace of mind.

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Research Associates is a award-winning private investigation agency based Notting Hill Gate, within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London UK. We have decades of making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve focused services to executives, corporations, private individuals and families, charities, government agencies, as well as the legal profession internationally.

Investigation Services

Background Checks

We provide bespoke due diligence packages and background checks for corporate clients, minimising risk and enabling informed decision-making.

Blackmail | Extortion

Our highly experienced private detectives have a flawless track record in resolving blackmail and extortion with sensitivity, loyalty and discretion.

Complex Fraud

Our complex fraud investigators resolve cases of fraud and help recover lost funds in a cost-efficient manner for both corporations and private individuals.

Debtor Tracing

We are experts at rapidly and discreetly locating and confirming the whereabouts of absconding debtors in the UK and worldwide.

Forensic Services

We offer a comprehensive range of forensic services and provide accredited forensic specialists and expert witnesses of all disciplines.

Missing Persons

Our leading private investigators are adept at locating missing persons in a legal, confidential, sensitive and cost-effective manner.

Observation | Surveillance

We provide bespoke covert surveillance and observation services with discretion and professionalism, often at short notice.

Personal Relationships

Our sensitive matrimonial investigators provide evidence of a partner’s activities, balancing professional experience with empathy and tact.

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Specialist Services

Close Protection

We offer bespoke specialist close protection services throughout the UK, EU, Africa and the Middle East, using former military and police operatives.

Competitive Intelligence

We supply business users with competitive intelligence based on legally and intelligently gathered information from a range of sources.

Computer & IT Crime

Our forensic investigators offer cutting-edge forensic IT services to corporate and private markets with a high degree of technical knowledge.

Electronic Sweep

Our electronic sweep (TSCM) services are rigorous and comprehensive, giving you peace of mind that your business is secure.

Document Examination

Our forensic document examiners use state-of-the-art scientific methods to outline and weigh all the evidence according to court-admissible protocol.

Global Business Reports

We supply tailored, confidential company reports and country risk reports in a streamlined and bespoke manner.

Lawyer Registration

Lawyers may register with the ABI to demonstrate they have undertaken due diligence in selecting an investigator or process server.

Monitoring Software

Our monitoring software is completely legal and covert, allowing the monitoring of usage and blocking of sites at home or in the workplace.

Polygraph Examination

All our polygraph examiners are BEPA accredited and highly experienced, guaranteeing confidential and reliable service.

Process Serving

We act for law firms, as well as commercial and private clients in challenging process serving cases requiring tact and subtlety.

Security Consultancy

We are a leading provider of security services and consultancy, employing accredited personnel of the highest calibre.

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Why Research Associates?

Absolute Discretion

Confidentiality is key to our work; therefore, we treat all investigations with utmost discretion and privacy throughout, assuring loyalty and professionalism at all times. Since our inception in 1977, we have enjoyed a hard-earned international reputation – both with private individuals and organisations and within the forensic, security and investigation industries – for being knowledgeable, trustworthy and proficient.

Bespoke Services

We promise to offer the best professional advice and options for your individual matter and to always treat your case with appropriate discretion and sensitivity. Our view is that the client is usually the expert in the presented subject and that Research Associates are experts in all aspects of private investigation. For this reason, we always strive to work in close conjunction with our clients to reach the desired resolution.

Range of Services

We offer a broad range of services, from locating people and dealing with personal relationship investigations to close protection and resolving blackmail. Our commercial portfolio includes covert surveillance, asset and debtor tracing, complex fraud investigations, due diligence investigations and background checks, competitive intelligence etc. We also have facilities for polygraphs, security consultancy and process serving.

Working with Lawyers

Over the years, we have worked to provide solicitors and barristers with hard evidence in the civil and criminal courts of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and overseas, including the USA. Furthermore, our principal investigators, Paul Hawkes and Martin Tomlins-Young, are full active members of the Association of British Investigators, which is endorsed by the Law Society of England & Wales and the approved supplier scheme for the Law Society of Scotland.

High Profile

We deal with many forms of threat, both verbal and online, including physical, emotional, financial, reputational, psychological and political. We rise to out-of-the-ordinary challenges: specific projects that typically threaten high-net-worth individuals’ wealth, reputation, or safety. As such, much of our work has been on high-profile cases where the expense comes second to closure.

Global Reach

Our business spans the globe, from your doorstep to wherever our investigations take us. Research Associates boasts a formidable network of multinational and multi-disciplined experts, resulting in a complete global and local reach to investigations and a reputation as one of the world’s most elite private detective agencies. This allows us to provide a full range of services within the Greater London Area, throughout the UK.

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Experienced Team

Research Associates is well-recognised as a reliable private intelligence and investigation agency that employs only credible specialist consultants and fully-trained detectives with a well-documented, successful history both locally and internationally. Our principal partners, Paul Hawkes and Martin Tomlins-Young, each have decades of experience and an established reputation as trustworthy, sensitive, and discreet investigators. They are both industry-recognised for their expertise and knowledge. They have frequently lectured on and given talks about industry matters and have been responsible for widely respected specialist texts and events. Journalists and media professionals have regularly consulted them as definitive authorities in their areas of expertise. They have been the subject of numerous favourable profile pieces in broadsheet newspapers, including The Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph, and other media. Research Associates’ committed principal partners are backed up by a tight-knit, dedicated team of experienced staff, consultants, research analysts, and other specialists.

Principal Partners

Paul Hawkes

Paul Hawkes has spent most of his working life as a private investigator; having established himself within the profession in August 1977, he has more than 40 years of experience. Hawkes has been nominated as the Association of British Investigators’ Investigator of the Year in 2010 and 2013, the World Association of Detectives’ Investigator of the Year 2014, and is a full member of the Institute of Professional Investigators.

Over his decades-long career, Paul Hawkes has acquired a comprehensive range of techniques, resources, industry knowledge, and well-placed contacts, as well as a reputation for an empathetic and perceptive approach toward clients’ unique needs. In addition, Hawkes is renowned as a trustworthy, straight-speaking and impartial investigator who treats all matters with the utmost discretion and sensitivity.

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Martin Tomlins-Young

Martin Tomlins-Young established himself as a professional investigator within the UK in September 1994, from a background in corporate research. Two years later, after developing a speciality in locating missing persons across the globe, Tomlins-Young joined Research Associates. Becoming a director of Research Associates in 2002, Tomlins-Young extended his expertise to include the high-end surveillance, profiling and intelligence research for which both he and Research Associates are renowned.

Over the past two decades, Martin Tomlins-Young has set up sophisticated systems for the tracing of birth relatives and has proved himself to be adept at finding individuals, however challenging the presenting situation. He is a tenacious lateral thinker with an eye for the finer details and uses clever, knowledgeable approaches to resolve complex cases.

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Professional Membership

Frequently Asked Questions

A private investigator helps clients obtain information regarding persons or entities where the client has exhausted other options. A professional investigator/private detective should be qualified and understand the legislation pertaining to any jurisdictions they are working in.

It is always best to hire a private investigator/detective as soon as you have a situation where critical information is needed. It is best to avoid leaving the hiring of an investigator to the point of crisis as forward planning and preparation is a prime tool of an elite investigator.

A competent private investigator will find ways of obtaining information that is legitimately required by a client without breaking the law, often using legislation to their own advantage. It is essential to avoid blunt, illegal activities; a qualified investigator will rely on clever, well-thought-out techniques to assist the given situation.

It is absolutely legal, and in some cases essential, to employ a qualified investigator/detective with a proven track record. It is crucial that the investigator you choose is trustworthy and understands the nuance of your situation. Research for hiring an investigator should not be based merely on cost but should consider capability and reliability.

Private investigators cannot and should not do anything that breaks the law or is seen to be significantly disproportionate to the given situation. However, most people may not appreciate that when a qualified investigator fully understands the background of the situation and why the information needs to be obtained, an alternative, legal route can often be found and instigated.

When choosing an investigator/detective, it is important to select somebody with the appropriate experience and a well-documented track record. In some countries, the government regulates activities, however in the UK the industry is self-regulated via the Association of British Investigators (ABI). The Law Society of England recommends UK solicitors/lawyers only employ professional investigators who hold membership of the ABI.

A significant advantage that investigators have over the general public is access to privileged databases and the use of proprietary software to interrogate third-party indexes, registries and the internet (including the deep web, the unindexed portion of the internet, which is fifty times larger than the portion covered by search engines such as Google).

Private investigation is such a broad term that it is nearly impossible to define how long an investigation could last. Some straightforward locates take a matter of days or hours, and some projects go on for years. However, what is essential is that you talk through the situation of concern, make it clear what your aims are, and speak with a qualified investigator/detective who will be able to give a clear indication of the expected timeframe. Although some criteria, such as the time taken for a contact to supply information, may change during an investigation, a good investigator will communicate clearly and openly regarding changes in timeframe throughout an investigation.

Though obtaining phone records is strictly illegal, people often see it as a shortcut to finding out other information that can be obtained by conducting more nuanced investigation. A good investigator/detective will always have alternative methods of obtaining information that a private individual may be unable to legally access.

Police typically rely on manpower, and many bright and proactive officers are seconded into specialist niches within the force. Due to financial and other restraints, the police do not have the resources to investigate many crimes, specifically frauds and complex missing person investigations. They are also constrained by time, meaning cases requiring in-depth investigation are often deprioritised. These restrictions do not apply to private investigators, allowing greater freedom in investigations.

A private investigator/detective is precisely that – private. Even before instructions are given, everything said and discussed should remain forever private and confidential. A professional investigator with a documented track record should always reassure the client of confidentiality and will be willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) where need be. It is imperative that each client finds an investigator they feel they can trust, as most investigations involve sensitive details.