Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)
RIPA sets out the ways in which Hartlepool Borough Council can lawfully carry out investigations when we want to use surveillance techniques. There are three types of surveillance techniques available to local authorities:
- The acquisition and disclosure of communications data (such as telephone billing information or subscriber details);
- Directed Surveillance (covert surveillance of individuals in public places); and
- Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) (such as the deployment of undercover officers)
Local authorities may use covert techniques where they are responsible for enforcing the law in respect of: environmental crime; consumer scams; loan sharks; taxi cab regulation; underage sale of knives, alcohol and tobacco; and the employment of minors. CHIS and directed surveillance techniques are used in test purchase operations to investigate the sale of tobacco, alcohol and other age-restricted products.Local authorities may only use covert surveillance for the prevention and detection of crime; and only in those cases where the offence under investigation is subject to a term of imprisonment of 6 months or more. In addition, since the Protection of Freedom Act 2012 came into force, all local authorities must get approval from a magistrate before they undertake any form of covert surveillance.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s use of surveillance powers is kept under review by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office. Regular inspection visits are made and the outcomes of these are reported to both the Council's Audit and Governance and Finance and Policy Committee’s to ensure that the council complies with statutory requirements.
The designated RIPA Coordinator for the Hartlepool Borough Council is:
Legal and Democratic Services Manager