The Commencement Order for, amongst other things, the RIPA provisions within the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 has now been made. This means that from 1st November 2012 all local authority surveillance will require judicial approval.
Chapter 2 of Part 2 of the 2012 Act (sections 37 and 38) amends the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) so as to require local authorities to obtain the approval of a Magistrate for the use of any one of the three covert investigatory techniques available to them under RIPA namely Directed Surveillance, the deployment of a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) and accessing communications data. An approval is also required if an authorisation to use such techniques is being renewed. In each case, the role of the Magistrate is to ensure that the correct procedures have been followed and the relevant factors have been taken account of. The new provisions allow the Magistrate, on refusing an approval of an authorisation, to quash that authorisation.
For a full explanation of the new provisions click here
Note that 1st November also sees Directed Surveillance being made subject to a new Serious Crime Test. More information here
Please get in touch if you would like customised in house training on any aspects of the Act.
The New Criminal Procedure Rules 2012 (coming into force on 1st October) provide more details about the procedure for seeking magistrates’ approval:
We are still waiting though for the detailed guidance from the Home Office.