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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/01/2007





The main purpose of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Action 2000 (RIPA) is to ensure that the relevant investigatory powers are used in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights.

One of the principles of the Convention is that particular rights, (such as the right to respect for privacy protected by Article 8 of the Convention), may only be infringed by investigating authorities where specific legislation allows for investigations to be conducted in a lawful contravention of the Convention right (i.e. the requirement of “legality”).

Investigative activities pursued in accordance with the provisions of RIPA will conform to the requirement of “legality”, because their lawful use is likely to be assured where an investigating authority has complied with the RIPA provisions. In this way, conformity to the Council’s policy and procedures in accordance with RIPA will protect the investigative activity of the Council, the outcome of investigations, and the reputation of the Council.

It is the responsibility of the Council to ensure that its investigations are conducted effectively and ethically in accordance with legislation.

Preliminary Human Rights Considerations:

1. Whether covert surveillance is necessary

In accordance with RIPA and to comply with the European Convention, the action being authorised must not only conform to the Council’s RIPA procedures, but must also be necessary to achieve a legitimate aim.

For the investigative purposes of the Council convert surveillance may properly be regarded as necessary where it is conducted

For the prevention and detection of crime or the prevention of disorder.
In the interest of public safety.
In the interest of national security.
In the interest of the economic well being of the country.
For the purpose of protecting public health.
For the purpose of assessing or collecting any tax, duty, levy or other imposition, contribution or charge payable to a government department.
For the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

In considering whether covert surveillance on behalf of the Council is necessary, authorising officers will be required to be satisfied that alternative investigative procedures not entailing covert surveillance have been considered. Authorising officers will require to be satisfied that for reasons of urgency or effectiveness the covert surveillance technique selected is the most appropriate for securing the relevant information.

2. Whether covert surveillance is proportionate

The use of covert surveillance techniques must be proportionate to the aims of the Council in pursuing the investigation. For the investigative purposes of the Council covert surveillance may properly be regarded as proportionate where it is conducted in such a way that the extent of the necessary interference with the human rights of individuals (the subject of the investigation or others) is proportionate to achieving the legitimate aim of the investigation.


1. It is the policy of Waverley Borough Council to conduct all investigations involving the use of covert surveillance techniques in accordance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

2. To ensure that investigations are compliant with the requirements of the Human Rights Action 1998 and are fairly and lawfully conducted, covert surveillance techniques will be used only where they relate to a specific investigation, where they are necessary, and where they are proportionate to the aims of the investigation.

3. Investigations involving covert surveillance techniques will not proceed until authorised by the relevant Director or an officer nominated by a Director and being an Assistant Chief Officer or an Assistant Head of Service, or a Service manager or equivalent.1

4. The Council will comply with any Code of Practice issued by the Secretary of State current at the time of a specific and authorised investigation.

5. The Council will provide training for all staff who may conduct or be involved in covert surveillance operations, and all who may authorise such surveillance activity.

Notes: see Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order and Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Prescription of Offices, Ranks and Positions) Order