RIPA is the law governing the use of covert techniques by public authorities.
It requires that when public authorities – such as the police or government departments – need to use covert techniques to obtain private information about someone, they do it in a way that is necessary, proportionate, and compatible with human rights.
When RIPA applies
RIPA applies to a wide-range of investigations in which private information might be obtained.
Cases in which it applies include:
- public safety
- emergency services
What RIPA does
RIPA's guidelines and codes apply to actions such as:
- intercepting communications, such as the content of telephone calls, emails or letters
- acquiring communications data – the ‘who, when and where’ of communications, such as a telephone billing or subscriber details
- conducting covert surveillance, either in private premises or vehicles (intrusive surveillance) or in public places (directed surveillance)
- the use of covert human intelligence sources, such as informants or undercover officers
- access to electronic data protected by encryption or passwords
Codes of practice and forms
Before a person representing a public authority makes an application under RIPA, they should download and read the appropriate codes of practice.
They can then download the forms needed to make an application.