BA and others v Cleveland Police

IPT/11/129/CH, IPT/11/133/CH and IPT/12/72/CH

In this case the Tribunal examined the conduct of the Police in placing a covert device into the house of a vulnerable adult, with her consent, which resulted in the arrest of one of her carers.

The patient, who was only mobile by the use of a personal motorised chair, owned the flat. She discovered that items belonging to her were going missing, and believed that one or more of the carers were responsible, although she was unable to identify which of them. They all had unrestricted access to her flat, and the patient supervised their access save for when she was in bed, which was of course for much of the time, particularly at night. In late January 2010 her social worker reported the matter to the Police. The Cleveland Police considered a number of strategies, including the arrest of all carers, which was rejected as being disproportionate. CCTV equipment was installed with the patient’s consent.

On 4 July a case for holding DVDs belong to the patient was found to be missing. On 16 July footage was removed from the device which showed the First Claimant perusing the patient’s personal documents, then taking the case and peeling the patient’s identity label off it.

The Tribunal was satisfied that, although the conduct was not protected by Section 27 RIPA, there was no breach of Section 32(2); and Section 65(7) makes it clear that there can be conduct not covered by an authorisation which still falls to be tested by this Tribunal. That subsection makes it plain that there will or may be cases in which the Tribunal may find it appropriate for the conduct to take place without an authorisation, although it will be expected that “at least” there will have been “proper consideration” as to whether such authorisation should be sought. In this case there was such proper consideration, and the conduct proceeded. The Tribunal was satisfied that, although the conduct was not protected by a surveillance authorisation, there was no unlawful activity or breach of Article 8.

Judgment dated : 5 Jul 12

Download supporting full judgement documentation: