The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) regulates the use of covert activities by public authorities including local authorities. The legislation covers both the use of surveillance and the obtaining of communications data. The legal requirements are supplemented by codes of practice issued by the Home Office.
We use our powers under RIPA Part 1 (communications data) and Part 2 (covert surveillance) for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime or preventing disorder. This includes enforcement activities in relation to:
- Rogue traders who commit fraud or misdescribed services;
- Persons who supply counterfeit or illegal goods;
- Traders who supply alcohol, cigarettes and other age restricted goods to underage persons;
- Traders breaching licensing requirements regarding taxis or alcohol sales;
- Persons committing environmental crime;
- Persons committing benefit fraud;
- Persons committing anti-social behaviour;
The Council operates robust procedures to ensure that the use of surveillance and the acquiring of communications data are lawful and all such uses are authorised in advance by senior management. Part of the process is to ensure that consideration is given to other methods for trying to obtain the evidence, but it has been concluded that there is no viable alternative method available to obtain the relevant evidence and that the proposed course of action is necessary and proportionate to the aims of the investigation. Senior Directors in Legal and Democratic Services examine copies of all authorisations to ensure consistency of standards.
Both parts of the Act have independent commissioners to oversee the Council’s use of RIPA. The Interception of Communications Commissioners’ Office covers the acquiring of communications data and the Office of Surveillance Commissioners covers the use of cover surveillance. Both commissioners carry out inspections to review how the Council makes use of RIPA.
]The Council has adopted the following corporate policy documents:
- Policy and Procedures Document on the Acquisition of Communications Data under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
- Policy and Procedures Document on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Both documents are periodically revised based on changes to the law and on any guidance received from the Interception of Communications Commissioners’ Officer or the Office of Surveillance Commissioners