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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/01/2007

Summary & Purpose
To present an amended Policy for the approval of the Executive and adoption by the Council, on the use of covert surveillance techniques under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Waverley Borough Council


[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

To present an amended Policy for the approval of the Executive and adoption by the Council, on the use of covert surveillance techniques under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Environmental implications:

There are no implications for natural resource use, pollution prevention and control or biodiversity and nature in this report.

Social / community implications:

The purpose of this report is to ensure that Council investigations that may give rise to prosecution are properly based on policy and practice approved by the Council. The amended Policy will support successful prosecution where such action is necessary, and thereby support the reduction of crime and the fear of crime.

E-Government implications:

There are no E-Government implications in this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The impact on budgetary resources will be neutral – adoption of the amended Policy will be in substitution for, rather than in addition to, the existing Policy. The legal implications are that the investigative procedures of the Council will be improved to accord fully with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and supporting secondary legislation, and records of compliance will support probity and be evidence in the event of challenge in a particular case.

There may be implications for joint or coordinated working with other agencies, such as Surrey Police. On occasion it may be necessary to seek the assistance of Surrey Police where the Council’s powers under the 2000 Act are restricted. Such situations are likely to be extremely rare, and are unlikely to create an impact on budgetary resources.


1. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) introduced controls over investigative procedures where “directed surveillance” is used in a particular investigation. An example of directed surveillance would be the installation of a sound recording device in a complainant’s property in order to monitor noise from an alleged perpetrator’s property.

2. RIPA also authorises the use of “covert human intelligence sources”. A member of the public acting as a test passenger in a taxi licensing investigation would be one such example. The use of such covert human intelligence sources by Waverley officers is, and would be, rare, and in any event would likely be undertaken in partnership with other agencies such as Surrey Police.

3. In June 2002, the Executive approved the designation of particular officers who may authorise the use of direct surveillance techniques, and a list of those officers is attached at Annexe 2 of this Report. Those officers, and investigating officers who may be authorised by them, have received training in order to give a common understanding of the procedures to be used for authorising and conducting the use of directed surveillance and covert human intelligence source techniques.

4. Further ‘RIPA training’ is due to take place in January 2007 for all officers referred to in paragraph 3 above.


5. The amended Policy is attached at Annexe 1, and the proposed amendments are highlighted in bold italics for ease of reference. The amendments are minor, but expand the ‘legitimate aims’ so as to more correctly reflects the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.

6. In particular it has become necessary to review the Policy, and amend it where appropriate, as a result of an upcoming initiative to be undertaken by the Housing Department. The initiative will employ covert CCTV in an attempt to monitor and identify anti-social behaviour, and those responsible for it, in and around Council properties. Given that this is the first occasion where the Housing Department has needed to operate investigations involving such surveillance, officers are keen to ensure that the Policy correctly reflects the legislation so as to be clear for those officers who are new to conducting such investigations. All officers involved in investigations as part of the initiative will receive the training referred to in paragraph 4 above.

Resource Implications

7. The cost of processing authorisations in each investigation will be absorbed as procedural costs in initiating the investigation of the individual case. As such, the cost of implementing the provisions of the Act will, to some extent, depend on the number of relevant investigations involving directed surveillance.

Corporate Procedures

8. The procedures for RIPA authorisations have been developed separately and in consultation with all of the authorised officers listed at Annexe 2.


9. The amended Policy is now presented for the approval of the Council. The Policy will continue to guide the practice of Council officers in conducting investigations where regulated covert surveillance techniques are used.


It is recommended that the revised Policy be approved and referred to the Council for adoption.

Background Papers (MD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


Name: D Bainbridge Telephone: 01483 523235 Comms/exec/2006-07/267