To receive the Annual update of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) Policy.
Cabinet received a report seeking approval of an updated Covert Surveillance Policy. In accordance with Statutory Codes of Practice applying to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) the Authority was required to review its use of RIPA and set the general surveillance policy at least annually.
The draft Policy had been considered by the Regulation and Review Committee on 21 October 2021 and had been referred to Cabinet for further consideration and, if appropriate, approval.
No substantive changes had been proposed as the previously adopted Policy remained fit for purpose. The report also explained that there had been no RIPA authorisations granted in the last year.
The aims of the Authority’s Policy were to:
· Set out the Authority’s arrangements for complying with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA); the relevant Codes of Practice and guidance issued by the Home Office; and guidance from the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO);
· Give effect to the rights of citizens to respect for their private and family lives (pursuant to the Human Rights Act 1998); and
· Protect the Authority from legal challenge when undertaking surveillance.
The Codes of Practice applying to RIPA indicated that Elected Members of a local authority should review its use of RIPA and set the general surveillance policy at least annually. A local authority should also consider internal reports on the use of RIPA to ensure that it was being used consistently in compliance with the Authority's Policy and that the Policy remained fit for purpose.
To meet these requirements the Policy provided that:
· Cabinet receives an annual report covering the Authority’s use of RIPA powers, and review of the Policy for the following year;
· Reports would be presented to the Regulation and Review Committee on the Authority’s use of RIPA powers. The Committee’s role would be to look at compliance, oversight and use of RIPA. The Committee would also consider whether the Policy remained fit for purpose and recommend changes to the Policy as appropriate for Cabinet’s consideration; and
· The Elected Mayor would receive regular updates from the Senior Responsible Officer regarding the use of the Authority’s powers.
Cabinet considered the following decision options: To approve the Authority’s Policy on Covert Surveillance, attached as Appendix 1 to the report, or alternatively, to ask officers to revise the draft Policy and/or provide additional information regarding any matters contained in the report.
Resolved that (1) the Authority’s Policy on Covert Surveillance, attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved;
(2) the Director of Law and Governance, in consultation with the Elected Mayor as appropriate, be authorised to implement the policy and all ancillary matters relating to it; and
(3) an update report be received every 12 months to ensure proper oversight pf the Policy.
(Reason for decision: Approving the Authority’s Policy on Covert Surveillance will secure adherence to the recommended best practice contained within the Codes of Practice. In particular, the Code of Practice – Covert Surveillance and Property Interference indicates that elected members should review the Authority’s use of Part II of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and set the policy at least once a year.)