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'Trivial' investigations by authorities to be curbed

  • Published: Friday, 17 April 2009

Plans to stop local authorities using special investigatory powers for trivial purposes have been announced. The plans include a review of which public authorities can use investigatory powers and proposals to raise the level of authorisation needed to approve them.

Review of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)

The review of RIPA is meant to make sure public authorities are not using investigatory powers for trivial reasons, while cutting down paperwork for the police so they are better able to fight crime.

The review will invite views on:

  • which public authorities should be able to use investigatory methods like the use of communications data or covert surveillance in public places
  • the reasons why these investigatory methods should be used
  • raising the level of authorisation needed to approve the use of these investigatory techniques
  • whether elected councillors should also play a role in the authorisation

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people going about their everyday lives. I don't want to see these powers being used to target people for putting their bins out on the wrong day or for dog fouling offences.

"I also want to make sure that there is proper oversight of the use of these powers which is why I am considering creating a role for elected councillors in overseeing the way in which local authorities use RIPA techniques."

Views are also being invited on new codes of practice for RIPA investigations to make it clearer when the use of RIPA techniques would be proportionate. It is hoped a new code will make it clear that RIPA should not be used in relation to trivial offences, and provide examples so everyone can understand how and when these techniques should be used.

Have your say

If you want to take part in the consultation you have until 10 July 2009 to have your say.

You can do this by emailing RIPACONSULTATION@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk, or by writing to:

Tony Cooper
Home Office
5th Floor Peel Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

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