Public authorities have powers of surveillance which they can use to investigate serious criminal offences. Covert surveillance occurs where the subject of the surveillance is unaware that it is happening. As a result, private information may be acquired.
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) sets out a framework to regulate how certain types of covert surveillance are carried out. It aims to ensure that human rights concerns are addressed at all times, and to ensure that potentially invasive surveillance is carried out only where it is a necessary and proportionate response to the situation.
Across the Eastbourne and Lewes areas we use covert surveillance only by exception and as a last resort. All officers considering covert surveillance must follow a detailed process which requires senior officers of the council to review and authorise the activity before seeking approval from a magistrate. Approval is dependent on a number of factors, primarily whether the proposed surveillance is necessary and proportionate.
Need more information?
The Office of Surveillance Commissioners' website provides further information on the law and on how it is to be used.