Related Sector: Investigations, Covert, Intel & Specialist

A number of people have recently been asking for ‘top tips’ in relation to applications and authorisations for directed surveillance under RIPA (and RIPSA) so I’ve come up with what I think maybe some helpful hints.

None of these will replace training in the completion of applications and authorisations, but hopefully they will give you some help.

  1. Understand the key terms of necessary, proportionality and collateral intrusion. Make sure they reflect the case you are dealing with. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to these terms and they need to be applied to the actual application and authorisation in question.
  2. The intelligence case should be a summary or bullet point list of the underlying intelligence not a complete ‘cut and paste’ of it all.
  3. Ensure that the application and authorisation for surveillance tactics and equipment aren’t too widely drawn at the outset but they should allow for flexibility to amend the tactics, locations, times or subjects.
  4. The authorisation should reflect the application but it should stand alone. If the authorisation continually refers to the application then it will make it easier for the defence to make an application to see it and therefore potentially exposing the intelligence case, intelligence sources or other tactics. Disclosure is an important consideration and must be considered right from the start of drafting applications and authorisations.
  5. Any material obtained must be managed in accordance with the code of practice, failing to do so can be an error that needs to be reported to IPCO. Whilst this needs to be covered in detail in the cancellation, thought needs to be given to any material that is likely to be obtained when completing the application or authorisation to ensure that collateral intrusion is kept to a minimum.
  6. On a final note, read the question that is being asked in each box of the application and authorisation and answer that. If you don’t understand the question then check the code of practice, ask an experienced colleague or get some training.

Hopefully this gives you some tips to help you next time you need to apply for directed surveillance.

Author: Adrian Ramdat, Director of Covert, Intel & Specialist Training at Bond Solon
This article was first published on Friday 12th February 2021.

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