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The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)

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The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which came into force on 25 September 2000, was enacted in order to regulate the use of a range of investigative powers by a variety of public authorities. It gives a statutory framework for the authorisation and conduct of certain types of covert surveillance operation. Its aim is to provide a balance between preserving people’s right to privacy and enabling enforcement agencies to gather evidence for effective enforcement action.

It is consistent with the Human Rights Act 1998 and creates a system of safeguards, reflecting the requirements of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for a person’s private and family life, home and correspondence). Compliance with RIPA means that any conduct authorised under it is 'lawful for all purposes'. This important protection derives from section 27(1) of RIPA, which gives the authorised person an entitlement to engage in the conduct which has been authorised. Compliance with RIPA will assist the Council in any challenges to the way in which evidence has been gathered and will enable the Council to demonstrate that it has acted lawfully.

Compliance with RIPA makes authorised surveillance “lawful for all purposes” pursuant to section 27(1) of the Act. Compliance with RIPA will protect the Council from challenges to both the gathering of, and the subsequent use of, covertly obtained information. Non-compliance may result in:

  • evidence being disallowed by the courts;
  • a complaint of maladministration to the Ombudsman; or
  • the Council being ordered to pay compensation.

It is essential therefore that the Council’s policies and procedures, as set out in the document below, are followed.

Last updated: 15 March 2012

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