How we fit in

There are four key levels or pillars of oversight, of which the Tribunal is one:
Authorisations: Intrusive powers should only be exercised upon the authority of a warrant or an authorisation given by a “designated person” with authority to do so.  Applications to use these powers must be scrutinised with great care, for they must be granted only if the particular power sought is in all the circumstances: (a) lawfully available; (b) necessary; and (c) proportionate.

The Commissioners: The role of the Commissioners is to provide oversight of the way in which all public authorities in the United Kingdom carry out covert surveillance. They visit relevant public authorities, interview officers who authorize covert techniques, examine paperwork and give advice as to compliance with the law. These techniques are governed by Part III of the Police Act 1997 and Parts II and III of RIPA. There are three Commissioners, all of whom are, or have been, eminent and very senior judges.

Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. This is a statutory Committee made up of distinguished Parliamentarians who have further responsibility for the oversight of the security and intelligence agencies  (MI5, MI6, and GCHQ) and other parts of the UK intelligence community. Their duties include overseeing the agencies’ activities, policies, expenditure, administration and operations. This Committee is currently chaired by the Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The Tribunal was established by RIPA Sections 65-69 to consider, and if necessary, investigate, any complaints made by members of the public  who believe that they have been the victim of unlawful action under RIPA, or that their rights have been breached by any unlawful activity under RIPA or wider human rights infringements in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998. The Tribunal then decides if the complaint has been justified, making one of a number of possible Orders.
So the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is the final link in the oversight chain as it exists at present. It decides allegations of unlawful intrusion against the public authorities which include:

Last updated: 5 Jul 16