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Changes to local authority use of RIPA

From today (1 November 2012) local authorities are required to obtain judicial approval prior to using covert techniques. Local authority authorisations and notices under RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) will only be given effect once an order has been granted by a justice of the peace in England and Wales, a sheriff in Scotland and a district judge (magistrates' courts) in Northern Ireland.

Additionally, from this date local authority use of directed surveillance under RIPA will be limited to the investigation of crimes which attract a six month or more custodial sentence, with the exception of offences relating to the underage sale of alcohol and tobacco.

Further information can be found on the Home Office website:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/counter-terrorism/ripa-forms/local-authority-ripa-guidance/

The Tribunal will continue to consider complaints by individuals about the use of RIPA techniques by local authorities.  If the Tribunal does find fault with a RIPA authorisation or notice it has the powers to quash the judicial order which approved the grant or renewal of the authorisation or notice.

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