The Council has a policy setting out the scope of the laws relating to covert surveillance, the circumstances where it applies, the procedures that must be followed for authorising any covert surveillance and the considerations that must be taken in to account for use and authorising of any covert surveillance.
Scope of this policy
This Policy applies to the whole of Newark and Sherwood District Council (“the Council”). It applies to all covert surveillance undertaken by the Council.
This includes surveillance relating to core functions such as public protection and safety, planning enforcement and housing management that is carried out under the provisions of the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), and all other covert surveillance
Further guidelines and advice on RIPA procedures are also on the Council’s intranet for Council officer use only.
Principles and Commitments
The Council is committed to being open and transparent in the way that it works and delivers services, including the use of covert surveillance.
Wherever possible, overt (non-secret) investigation techniques should be used.
Key actions to meet the commitments set out in the policy
- Detailed guidance and forms are supplied for use by staff seeking authorisation for covert surveillance activities.
- Senior officers with appropriate training approve all authorisations.
- Some authorisations also require magistrate court approval – this approval will be sought where required.
1. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) is intended to regulate the use of investigatory powers and ensure that they are used in accordance with Human Rights.
This means that any interference with a person’s right to a private and family life has to be carefully justified. It must be reasonable in all the circumstances, proportionate to what is sought to be achieved and necessary to undertake the surveillance to achieve a lawful and legitimate aim.
This is achieved by requiring certain investigations to be authorised by an appropriate officer and approved by the judiciary before they are carried out.
2. The relevant powers that the Council can use are:-
a. Directed covert surveillance in respect of specific operations or specific investigations involving criminal operations that are punishable by a maximum term of at least 6 months’ imprisonment, or are related to the underage sale of alcohol and tobacco or nicotine inhaling products
b. The use of covert human intelligence sources, and
c. The acquisition of communications data.
RIPA makes it clear when and how these powers may be used and in what circumstances. It also sets out who may authorise the use of the powers at 2a –c above.
3. In complying with RIPA, Council officers must have full regard to the Codes of Practice on the use of covert surveillance and communications data issued by the Home Office, and the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO).
Covert Surveillance Authorisations
4. The use of any method of covert surveillance to pursue a particular line of enquiry must be properly authorised by one of the Council’s named Authorising Officers.
5. Will have been appointed at appropriate senior levels and trained to enable them to fulfil their duties. Wherever possible they will not have been involved directly in the investigation for which they are considering an authorisation. A list of Authorising Officers is maintained within the Council.
The Principles of Necessity and Proportionality
6. Prior to any authorisation for covert surveillance, full consideration must be given as to whether or not the acquisition of private information is necessary and proportionate. It must be balanced as to whether a potential breach of a human right is justified in the interests of the community as a whole, or whether the information could be obtained in other lawful ways.
7. Necessity – where the information sought could be found by another means such as walking past and observing an address or asking relevant questions, the use of surveillance will not be “necessary”; or, put another way, can the information be obtained openly? If the answer is yes, then the surveillance is not “necessary”.
8. Proportionality – this entails asking what the least intrusive form of surveillance would be that would result in the information sought being obtained. The method proposed must not be excessive in relation to the seriousness of the matter under investigation.
9. In particular the risk of “collateral intrusion”, that is intrusion on, or interference with, the privacy of persons other than the subject of the investigation will be considered in relation to each proposed use of covert surveillance. Steps must be taken to avoid unnecessary collateral intrusion and minimise any necessary intrusion into the lives of those not directly connected with the investigation or operation.
Training and Awareness
10. Authorising Officers must have received relevant training.
Monitoring and Review
11. The Council’s Monitoring Officer is the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) in relation to RIPA and covert surveillance. The SRO is responsible for implementing the activities outlined in this document, providing support to departments seeking to establish compliance, reviewing the implementation of the Policy, including training.
12. The RIPA Co-Coordinating Officer is nominated by the SRO to be responsible for day-to-day matters such as training and awareness, oversight of authorisations and keeping records, including a centrally retrievable record of authorisations.
13. The programme of review includes annual reporting to the Council’s Policy and Finance Committee on the implementation of the Policy, and reporting to the relevant service Committee on any RIPA authorisations granted or refused.
Councillors will not be involved in making decisions on specific authorisations.
Scrutiny and Tribunal
1. The IPCO monitors compliance with RIPA in relation to directed surveillance and CHIS. The IPCO monitors compliance with RIPA in relation to acquisition of communications data. The IPCO will inspect, from time to time, the Council’s records and procedures for this purpose and requires annual returns.
2. To ensure that investigating authorities are using their powers properly, RIPA established a Tribunal to hear complaints from persons aggrieved by conduct. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has power to cancel authorisations and order destruction of information obtained. The Council is under a duty to disclose to the Tribunal all relevant documentation.
3. There is also the Surveillance camera Commissioner whose role is to encourage Council’s compliance with the surveillance camera code of practice. They do not inspect the Council formally but can provide advice on appropriate and effective use of Surveillance camera systems.
4. In addition, the Council has its own Corporate Complaints procedure.
5. All data gathered via any surveillance must also be stored, maintained and destroyed securely in line with Data protection and GDPR protocols and procedures.
The Council has not carried out any covert ( or secretive) surveillance or monitoring of anyone or any business in our District for more than 5 years. This is due to using overt monitoring techniques, our focus on early intervention and deterrence and also restrictions imposed by RIPA.
You can contact the council about our RIPA policy by
- telephoning 01636 650 000;
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to us at
- Newark and Sherwood District Council,
Great North Road,