The way we conduct investigations has adapted over time to keep pace with developments in society as well as technology; the advent and spread of social media, for example, has made it easier for investigators to engage with targets remotely, building up a profile before a first physical meeting, while technological advances have greatly improved the variety and reliability of covert recording devices.
The initial phase of an investigation involves appraisal of the leads we have and any relevant contextual information, allowing us to make a sound evaluation of the best approach and to take steps to mitigate any anticipated risks.
An effective cover story is essential as is detailed knowledge of the subject matter, such as prices paid for certain types of timber, identification of wildlife products, and transport routes. EIA is scrupulous to avoid entrapment, so engagement with potential targets begins gradually and it take a series of conversations and meetings to get the full story. Whatever approach is used, the preparations are exhaustive to ensure our investigators have the best chance of obtaining vital information and to do so safely – from drilling cover stories into memory to double-checking our hidden recording equipment.