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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 08 May, 2013

 

Report of the Leader

 

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers

 

Purpose of the Report

 

To inform Cabinet of the changes to The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and to amend the Council's policy to reflect those changes and best practice guidance.

 

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet notes the content of this report and approves the revised policy attached at Appendix A.

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

To update Cabinet and amend the policy in line with legislative changes and best practice guidance.

 

Background

2.             As part of its public functions the Council undertakes a number of regulatory activities for public safety, examples include environmental health, planning and licensing. 

3.             RIPA provides a balance between preserving people's rights and giving enforcement agencies the right to gather evidence for effective enforcement action where necessary.

4.             There have been changes to the legislation and the Council needs to amend its existing Policy in the light of new provisions and best practice guidance.

 

Relevant Issues and Options

 

5.             There are two significant changes governing how local authorities can use RIPA these are:

·               Approval of Local Authority Authorisations under RIPA by a Justice of the Peace: The amendments in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 will mean that local authority authorisations and notices under RIPA for the use of particular covert techniques can only be given effect once an order approving the authorisation or notice has been granted by a Justice of the Peace (JP).

·               Directed surveillance crime threshold: Amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order 2010 (“the 2010 Order”) mean that a local authority can now only grant an authorisation under RIPA for the use of directed surveillance where the local authority is investigating particular types of criminal offences. These are criminal offences which attract a maximum custodial sentence of six months or more or criminal offences relating to the underage sale of alcohol or tobacco.

 

6.             The Home Office have issued guidance in relation to the changes. It is non-statutory but provides advice on how local authorities can best approach these changes in law. It is supplementary to the legislation and to the statutory Codes of Practice. The guidance is intended for local authority investigation teams that may use covert techniques, including Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Benefit Fraud Officers. The Home Office guidance is reflected in the revised policy at Appendix A.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

7.             There are no direct resources implications associated with this report.

 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

8.             There are no direct implications associated with this report.

 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

9.             The Council must comply with the legislation.

 

Crime and Disorder Implications

10.        The Council can only use RIPA for the purpose of:

·               preventing or detecting crime or for preventing disorder, and

·               in relation to directed surveillance where the local authority is investigating particular types of criminal offences as referred to above.

 

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

11.        There are no direct equal opportunities implications in relation to this report.

 

Corporate/Service Objectives

12.        The RIPA policy supports the Council's anti fraud objective as set out in the Corporate Plan.

 

Policy Framework and Budget

13.        This report is a matter for Executive decision.

 

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

 

14.        All appropriate officers have been consulted in respect of the report.

15.        Consultation with Ward Members has not been appropriate given overarching nature of the legislation.

 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

16.        Corporate Resources.

 

Background Papers

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers ( Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) ( Amendment ) Order 2012

Home Office guidance to local authorities in England and Wales on the judicial approval process for RIPA and the crime threshold for directed surveillance

 

Contact Officer

Information Manager/Lawyer

 

Officers Consulted

Head of Accountancy and Resource Management

 

Responsible Officer:

Head of Legal Services

 

 

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