Issue - meetings

Covert Surveillance Policy

Meeting: 27/07/2023 - Corporate Governance and Standards Committee (Item 22)

22 Review of Guildford Borough Council's Covert Investigative Powers Policy and alignment with the Policy of Waverley Borough Council pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report which sought approval to recommend to the Executive the adoption of the draft Covert Surveillance and Investigative Powers Policy and Procedure, a copy of which was attached as Appendix 1 to the report.  The Committee noted that the Audit & Risk Committee at Waverley Borough Council was also being asked to recommend an identical policy to Waverley Borough Council, with a view to both councils updating their current policies to reflect best practice, and to put the councils in the position of separate but aligned policies. This would reflect the current position of maintaining sovereignty but the policy being aligned to support and facilitate future collaboration between the councils should that be forthcoming.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) (as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (POFA)) and the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA) had set out a regulatory framework for the use of covert investigatory techniques by public authorities who must also adhere to the published Codes of Practice. The purpose of the legislation was to regulate powers to access information in a manner that was compatible with the Human Rights Act 1998, particularly Article 8 - the right to respect for private and family life.


Interference with these rights must be necessary and proportionate. The Council was committed to implementing the provisions of RIPA (and associated legislation) to ensure that any covert surveillance and/or obtaining of Communications Data was undertaken lawfully and was necessary and proportionate to alleged offences.


The Committee was informed that the Council only used covert surveillance powers exceptionally. In the last five years, the Council had only used its powers twice, once in February 2019 and once in August 2021. Both uses were in relation to directed surveillance.


The proposed policy:


·        described the investigative techniques local authorities were allowed to use and the limited circumstances in which they could be used;

·        outlined the need for authorisation, training and identified examples of what would constitute regulated activity; and

·        outlined the roles and responsibilities of various officers under the policy to ensure best practice and a consistency in approach when exercising RIPA and IPA powers.


As the legislation and Codes of Practice were frequently amended, this policy provided up-to-date details of those changes.   The policy would also help the Council to comply with the requirements of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Officer (IPCO) Inspectorate and also provide guidance to those who used these powers.


The Committee acknowledged that some roles described within the policy were shared across both councils and it made sense for the policy to reflect this, and for Guildford and Waverley to have aligned policies so the responsibilities of shared officers were clear and consistent.


Having noted that the draft policy had drawn the best parts and examples from each individual policy into one shared document, the Committee


RESOLVED: That the Executive be requested to agree that the draft Covert Surveillance and Investigative Powers Policy and Procedure attached as Appendix 1 to the report submitted to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22