Investigation and surveillance for preventing and detecting crime
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) regulates the use of covert surveillance by public authorities. The Act was brought in to ensure that whilst conducting surveillance, public authorities take into account the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly Article 8 which is concerned with the right to a private and family life. RIPA authorisations require Magistrate approval.
RIPA will only be used for directed covert surveillance for the purpose of preventing or detecting criminal offences which attract a maximum custodial sentence of six months or more or criminal offences relating to the underage sale of tobacco or alcohol.
We will only carry out surveillance when:
- it is necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law
- we have judicial approval
Council officers carry out general observation as part of their duties. For example Enforcement Officers may observe and then visit premises as part of their enforcement function. This is part of the everyday functions of law enforcement and these cases RIPA authorisation is not required. RIPA regulates only covert surveillance which means that it is carried out in a manner to ensure that the subjects of the surveillance are not aware that it is or may be taking place.
Guidance is available from Investigatory Powers Commissioner's Office.
Guidance and relevant Codes of Practice are accessible on Home Office.
Designated RIPA officers
Designated Officers are currently authorised under the legislation to consider applications for authorisation. These are set out in our constitution and are as follows:
The Chief Executive, Director People and Places, Assistant Director Resources (Section 151 Officer) and Assistant Director Neighbourhood Services.