To the onlooker she is a typical ‘thirty something’ housewife and mother but to those in the ‘know’ Mandy Turner is a top covert surveillance specialist and professional investigator providing her skills to insurance companies, businesses and private clients throughout the UK.
Owner of Amanda Turner Investigations, a private investigation and surveillance specialist agency based in the North East of England, Mandy has been operating within the private and commercial sector for more than four years. Before that Mandy served for twelve years with Northumbria Police; eight of those years spent on a dedicated crime team that specialised in carrying out covert surveillance on some of the UK’s most active and dangerous target criminals.
“After a six week surveillance training course, a four week advanced surveillance driving course and eight years experience on the job it seemed like the natural thing to do, to bring that experience into the private sector after leaving the police service”, explains Mandy with a wistful smile.
She continues by explaining that surveillance plays a significant role in many investigations and a lot of people think that it’s just about following someone and watching what they do.
“Yes it’s about following and watching, but contrary to what many believe, that’s not all of it. A good surveillance operative needs to be able to work in a team when required and be able to blend into any environment; to have the ability to effectively hide in ‘plain sight’ and to get the evidence when the opportunity presents itself”, she explains.
“Clients want hard evidence, just seeing someone do something isn’t enough; you have to capture the evidence on video or you are just wasting your time and your clients money”.
Mandy explains that there are PIs that take on surveillance assignments without adequate training or equipment. “To carry out professional surveillance you really need to be trained and have the right covert surveillance equipment, it’s no good being sat in the driving seat of your car outside a target’s house for hours with a camcorder at the ready; that’s just going to get the operation compromised”.
She continues by explaining that surveillance technology has improved immensely since she started as a professional surveillance operative, “without a doubt technology plays a big role in surveillance ‘ops’ these days, there is huge amount of surveillance gear out there that I use routinely on operations. Anything from tiny video cameras hidden in bags to a fully customised surveillance van, if you want to do this properly and professionally you really need to make a big investment in surveillance equipment”.
Mandy’s top tips for anyone wishing to enter the professional surveillance arena are:
- First of all you need to have patience, surveillance is not like it is on the TV there can be quite a bit of sitting around just watching and waiting.
- If you are serious about surveillance you need to invest in good quality training.
- Build up a wide range of covert surveillance equipment and become expert in using it.
- Having a surveillance van is a must; with a surveillance van you can park up and stay just about anywhere for a considerable time and just blend in.