The Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support submitted a report, the purpose of which was to seek approval of the Councils RIPA policy.
RIPA and the supporting guidance set out a prescribed process that the Council must comply with if it deemed that it was necessary to exercise its powers under RIPA.
RIPA was enacted as part of a suite of legislation flowing from the Human Rights Act 1997. The Act required that when public authorities needed to use covert techniques to obtain private information about someone, they only did so if surveillance was necessary, proportionate and compatible with human rights.
For Public Authorities, where a suspected offence could result in a custodial sentence of more than six months, or where it was suspected that alcohol or cigarettes were being sold to children, covert surveillance could be undertaken, subject to magistrate approval, if it was not possible to gather sufficient evidence to secure a prosecution without this.
The policy, attached at Appendix A, set out how the Council undertook that process. Most RIPA applications were made by the Public Protection Trading Standards Service for enforcement in relation to tobacco, alcohol and counterfeit goods. Details on the small number of applications made were presented to Members within the Senior Information Responsible Officer (SIRO) report to the February 2019 meeting of the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee.
The Council was regularly assessed to ensure it complied with legislative requirements in relation to RIPA. The latest inspection by the Investigatory Powers Commissioners Office (IPCO) was completed in October 2018 and shared with the Council in January 2019.
The inspection found that the Council had demonstrated a good level of compliance. It stated that the draft RIPA policy was well written and included the recent legislative changes, with signposts to the Codes of Practice on Covert Surveillance and Property Interference, as well as Covert Human Intelligence Sources.
Information on the use of RIPA was reported to the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee on an annual basis as part of the SIRO report.
Other potential decisions and why these had not been recommended
No other options were considered as they were not applicable to the report.
ORDERED that the Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) policy be approved.
The decision was supported for the following reason:
The policy would ensure compliance with legal requirements in relation to RIPA activities.