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Surveillance powers

As part of our work, we may need to carry out covert surveillance and other related activities

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

The Human Rights Act 1998 requires us and agencies working on our behalf to respect the rights of individuals to a private and family life, their home and their correspondence. However, in certain circumstances we may have to interfere with these rights if such interference is:

  • lawful;
  • necessary; and
  • proportionate ie does the alleged wrongdoing justify the interference.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) provides the mechanism for:

  • authorising covert surveillance and the use of undercover agents (covert human intelligence);
  • the acquisition and disclosure of communications data; and
  • the investigation of encrypted electronic data.

Authorising covert surveillance

Officers who wish to carry out activities authorised by RIPA are required to have undergone suitable training. An application would need to be made to a trained authorising officer, approved to consider such applications.

Once internal approval has been given, an application must be made to the Magistrates Court for judicial approval before surveillance can be undertaken.

Inspection

We are inspected by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) over our use of RIPA every three years.

Icon for pdf Office of Surveillance Commissioners Report [3.61MB]

Number of authorisations for surveillance

Records of authorisations are kept for five years and then securely destroyed in accordance with Home Office guidance, although we maintain statistical records on the number of authorisations, provided below.

RIPA authorisations
YearNumber of authorisations
2006-0715
2007-082
2008-091
2009-104
2010-110
2011-123
2012-132
2013-140
2014-150
2015-160
2016-170
2017-180

No authorisations for covert human intelligence have been granted.

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