Sat Nav Bad Day

In March 1998, High Court Judge Lord Justice Brown threw a claim out of court by the Police against a motorist who was caught using a Radar Detector. The Police claimed that under the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949, the motorist was illegally using the device. The Judge ruled that the Radar Detector did not actually receive any intelligible police information and that the Detector was only picking up the presence of radar and not any information within it. This case set a precedent and made the use of Radar Detectors legal in the UK. To over-rule this judgement, the Road Safety Act 2006 specifically bans the use of radar and laser detectors. Most drivers are happy with this situation. They know where cameras are because a fair processing notice is in place (to comply with principle 1 of the DPA) and this is usually a picture of an old fashioned camera recognised by millions. Even the mobile cameras that travel to different locations have their way of delivering an FPN although it is usually found on the web rather than in situ.

So we’re relatively happy. We know where all the speed cameras are and we see them in map books, on the net; We hear about mobile cameras on local radio and TV and we’re cool about it. We buy our TomToms and justify using them saying “it’s just an electronic version of publicly available database”. Then we go to France on holiday.

Since decree n°2012-3 was introduced on 3 January 2012 it has been illegal to be warned about the position of fixed or mobile speed cameras while you are driving in France. If your sat nav has this function and you continue to use the service, you risk a fine of up to €1500. Even if the device is switched off and not operational the possession of such witchcraft is the work of the devil. Ken Russell would have loved to have made a film about it. Good old data subjects from Blighty being thwarted by sneaky foreigners not even bothering to use Schedule 2 (6) just ignoring the rights of individuals and worse disapplying the Subject Information Provisions.

Initially this sounds quite tough. There have been discussions on the web, advice from motoring lobbys and horror stories of motorists having their boot searched by a bold gendarme emerging triumphantly from black plastic sacks of dirty washing with an old device and demanding instant payment of a fine. There is also the other view that the law is unenforceable; that Gendarmes cannot search for satnavs, cannot operate them if they see one as it is technically a computer and their common law powers don’t extend to interrogating them, they cannot check your smart phone for that app you downloaded for free…

The truth naturally lies in the middle. There’s been discussions between french satnav manufacturers and government (one french firm feared 2,000 job losses) and they’ve come up with a concept of danger zones. Instead of listing cameras they list danger zones where there may be a hazard (such as a level crossing or a school or where people might speed) and the satnav can issue a warning of the danger.

The french authorities meanwhile are pushing ahead with a programme of taking down existing signs warning of cameras; they are setting up new cameras and not telling drivers where they are and generally acting very french. Pah! I spit on your schedule 2 requirement.

Other solutions suggested in hyperspace include modifying your satnav camera POIs and labelling them lay bys. (or transport caffs); Registering your car in Lithuania; Buying your next satnav from France and specifying UK maps…(although we did hear that french spoken instructions interpret M25 as Monsieur Vingt Cinq) or exploring Germany which has excellent weissbier and many ancient castles.

Glossary.

A speed camera is un radar (pronounced rad – ah).
A satnav is a GPS (pronounced shay pay ess)
Zones of danger – zits noirs
Breathalyser is un alcooltest (did we forget to tell you that by law you must carry two of these in your car as well as a dayglo yellow vest for each passenger)

Useful phrases

  • Bordelle de merde, espece de radar
  • Fer cryin’ out loud a bloody speed camera
  • Est-ce qu’il y a une brasserie independante dans ce trou a rat, j’ai envie d’une biere?
  • Please direct me to a real ale pub if you have one in this dump of a town.
  • Va te faire cuire un oeuf, sale gendarme.
  • I don’t agree with you officer.

Bonnes Vacances!

1st November: D-Day for Council Surveillance

1st of November 2012 will see big changes in the way local authorities carry out surveillance under Regulation fo Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA):

1. Magistrates’ Approval for all Surveillance

Sections 37 and 38 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 amends 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. Click on the links below for more

Details of the new legal provisions

How to apply for Magistrates’ approval

RIPA Policy and Procedures Toolkit

2. New Serious Crime Test for Directed Surveillance

From 1st November 2012, local authority Authorising Officers may not authorise Directed Surveillance unless it is for the purpose of preventing or detecting a criminal offence which punishable by a maximum term of at least 6 months of imprisonment (subject to exceptions).

Details of the new test

Will councils still be able to do surveillance for “minor offences”?

Read my view here

How Act Now Can Help

1. New procedures and guidance will have to be issued – see our RIPA Policy and Procedures Toolkit

2. Officers will need to be made aware of the new procedures. See our training courses. If you would like customised in house training, please get in touch.

I hate my boss, I’m drunk, E’s are good and here’s my new mobile.

A delegate on a recent course after an animated discussion on social networking  sent us the following link to “We know what you’re doing… A social networking privacy experiment by Callum Haywood“.

To use the words of the site All data is pulled directly from Facebook, it is not censored, and it is publicly accessible via the Graph API” . In other words the site ‘reads’ status updates which are publicly accessible from Facebook and if they meet the right criteria it categorises them into the following 4 groups:

  • Those who ‘hate their boss’ (and are likely to get fired)
  • Those who are hungover
  • Those who use drugs or condone the use of drugs
  • Those who have a new phone number and have listed it publicly online

Some are fairly anonymous and private but now and again you do get enough information to track some one down with some low level googling. Here’s the link. Watch the video as well.

http://www.weknowwhatyouredoing.com/

 

New RIPA Procedure Guidance: Magistrates’ Approval

Chapter 2 of Part 2 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (sections 37 and 38) comes into force on 1st November 2012. This changes the procedure for the authorisation of local authority surveillance under the Regulation for Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

From 1st November local authorities will be required to obtain the approval of a Justice of the Peace (JP) 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 JP is to ensure that the correct procedures have been followed and the relevant factors have been taken account of. There is no requirement for the JP to consider either cancellations or internal reviews.For a full explanation of the 2012 Act and the new section 37 and 38 of RIPA read my article.

Home Office Guidance

The Home Office has now published its RIPA Magistrates’ Approval Guidance both for local authorities and the Magistrates’ Court. This guidance is non-statutory but provides advice on how local authorities can best approach these changes in law and the new arrangements that need to be put in place to implement them effectively.  It is supplementary to the legislation and to the two statutory Codes of Practice.

The New Magistrates’ Approval Process

  1. The first stage will be to apply for an internal authorisation in the usual way. Once it has been granted, the local authority will need to contact the local Magistrates Court to arrange a hearing.
  2. The hearing is a ‘legal proceeding’ and therefore local authority officers need to be formally designated to appear, be sworn in and present evidence or provide information as required by the JP. It is envisaged that the investigating officer will be best suited to fulfill this role. The local authority may consider it appropriate for the SPoC (Single Point of Contact) to attend for applications involving communications data.
  3. The local authority will provide the JP with a copy of the original RIPA authorisation or notice.  This forms the basis of the application to the JP and should contain all information that is relied upon. In addition, the local authority will provide the JP with two copies of a partially completed judicial application/order form (which is included in the Home Office Guidance).
  4. The hearing will be in private and heard by a single JP who will read and consider the RIPA authorisation or notice and the judicial application/order form.  He/she may have questions to clarify points or require additional reassurance on particular matters.  The forms and supporting papers must by themselves make the case.  It is not sufficient for the local authority to provide oral evidence where this is not reflected or supported in the papers provided.
  5.  The JP will consider whether he or she is satisfied that at the time the authorisation was granted or renewed or the notice was given or renewed, there were reasonable grounds for believing that the authorisation or notice was necessary and proportionate.  He/She will also consider whether there continues to be reasonable grounds.  In addition they must be satisfied that the person who granted the authorisation or gave the notice was an appropriate designated person within the local authority and the authorisation was made in accordance with any applicable legal restrictions, for example that the crime threshold for directed surveillance has been met (see below).
  6.  The order section of the above mentioned form will be completed by the JP and will be the official record of the his/her decision.  The local authority will need to retain a copy of the form after it has been signed by the JP.

The JP may decide to –

  • Approve the grant or renewal of an authorisation or notice

The grant or renewal of the RIPA authorisation or notice will then take effect and the local authority may proceed to use the technique in that particular case. The local authority will need to provide a copy of the order to the communications service provider (CSP), via the SPoC (Single Point of Contact), for all CD requests.

  • Refuse to approve the grant or renewal of an authorisation or notice

The RIPA authorisation or notice will not take effect and the local authority may not use the technique in that case.  Where an application has been refused the local authority may wish to consider the reasons for that refusal.  For example, a technical error in the form may be remedied without the local authority going through the internal authorisation process again.  The local authority may then wish to reapply for judicial approval once those steps have been taken.

  • Refuse to approve the grant or renewal and quash the authorisation or notice

This applies where a Magistrates’ court refuses to approve the grant, giving or renewal of an authorisation or notice and decides to quash the original authorisation or notice.The court must not exercise its power to quash that authorisation or notice unless the applicant has had at least two business days from the date of the refusal in which to make representations.

Appeals

A local authority may only appeal a JP’s decision on a point of law bymaking an application for judicial review in the High Court. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) will continue to investigate complaints by individuals about the use of RIPA techniques by public bodies, including local authorities.  If, following a complaint to them, the IPT finds fault with a RIPA authorisation or notice it has the power to quash the JP’s order which approved the grant or renewal of the authorisation or notice. It can also award damages if it believes that an individual’s human rights have been violated by the public authority doing the surveillance.

Plan Now

Local authorities should Act Now to ensure they are ready for the new procedure. They should:

  1. Train staff – All investigators and authorising officers need to know about the new process. Those who will be attending court need to be trained in completing the new judicial application/order form.
  2. Designate staff who will be attending the Magistrates Court – The usual procedure would be for local authority Standing Orders to designate certain officers( including SPoCs) for the purpose of presenting RIPA cases to JPs under section 223 of the Local Government Act 1972.  A pool of suitable officers could be designated before 1st November and adjusted as appropriate throughout the year.
  3. Amend the RIPA Policy and Procedures to reflect the new process.

New Serious Crime Test The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) (Amendment) Order 2012, SI 2012/1500  (“the 2012 Order”), was made on 11 June 2012 and will also come into force on 1 November 2012. Directed Surveillance will be made subject to a new Serious Crime Test. The days of councils authorising surveillance for dog fouling and littering will soon be over. More information here

Act Now can help you prepare for the new RIPA process. We have a new RIPA Policy and Procedures Toolkit as well as courses throughout the UK.

 If you would like advice on what needs to be done or customised in house training, please get in touch.

Mind the (Surveillance) Gap!

Before the 2010 election, both coalition parties made a big thing about “rolling back the Surveillance State.” They announced in the Coalition Agreement:

 “We will ban the use of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by councils, unless they are signed off by a magistrate and required for stopping serious crime.”

The first part of this commitment has been enacted via sections 37 and 38 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 . This 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. (Read our blog post for more on this requirement, which comes into force on 1st November).

The second part of the Coalition’s commitment also comes into force on the same day in the form of The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) (Amendment) Order 2012, SI 2012/1500 (“the 2012 Order”).  This amends the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order 2010, SI 2010/521 (“the 2010 Order”).

From 1st November 2012, local authority Authorising Officers may not authorise Directed Surveillance unless it is for the purpose of preventing or detecting a criminal offence and it meets the condition set out in New Article 7A(3)(a) or (b) of the 2010 Order. Those conditions are that the criminal offence which is sought to be prevented or detected is punishable, whether on summary conviction or on indictment, by a maximum term of at least 6 months of imprisonment, or would constitute an offence under sections 146, 147 or 147A of the Licensing Act 2003 or section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (offences involving sale of tobacco and alcohol to underage children).

The Government’s aim in passing the 2012 Order is explained in paragraph 7.2 of the explanatory memorandum :

“The additional restriction that is imposed through this statutory instrument on authorisations of directed surveillance by local authorities is imposed in response to public concern that some local authorities have used directed surveillance in trivial cases such as littering, dog control and school admission. This statutory instrument discharges a Government commitment to prevent local authority use of directed surveillance under RIPA unless required for the purposes of preventing or detecting the more serious kinds of criminal offences which local authorities investigate.”

Whilst the 2012 Order will certainly restrict councils authorising Directed Surveillance under RIPA, can it completely stop them doing covert surveillance when investigating “minor offences”? I do not think so.

RIPA is there to ensure that certain types of covert surveillance undertaken by public authorities is done in such as is human rights compliant. This is done through a system of (until now) internal authorisation from a senior officer. RIPA is permissive legislation. Authorisation under RIPA affords a public authority a defence under Section 27 i.e. the activity is lawful for all purposes. However, failure to obtain an authorisation does not make covert surveillance unlawful. Section 80 of RIPA states:

“Nothing in any of the provisions of this Act by virtue of which conduct of any description is or may be authorised by any warrant, authorisation or notice, or by virtue of which information may be obtained in any manner, shall be construed—

(a)as making it unlawful to engage in any conduct of that description which is not otherwise unlawful under this Act and would not be unlawful apart from this Act;

(b)as otherwise requiring—

(i)the issue, grant or giving of such a warrant, authorisation or notice, or

(ii)the taking of any step for or towards obtaining the authority of such a warrant, authorisation or notice,

before any such conduct of that description is engaged in; or

(c)as prejudicing any power to obtain information by any means not involving conduct that may be authorised under this Act.”

This point was explained more fully by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in the case of C v The Police (Case No: IPT/03/32/H 14th November 2006 ):

Although RIPA provides a framework for obtaining internal authorisations of directed surveillance (and other forms of surveillance), there is no general prohibition in RIPA against conducting directed surveillance without RIPA  authorisation. RIPA does not require prior authorisation to be obtained by a public authority in order to carry out surveillance. Lack of authorisation under RIPA does not necessarily mean that the carrying out of directed surveillance is unlawful.

In making the 2012 Order, the Government has forgotten to do anything about section 80 of RIPA. They should have repealed or amended it in some way to achieve their aim. Section 80 means that the changes in the 2012 Order will not make surveillance for dog fouling and littering unlawful. All it will mean is that in such cases surveillance will not have the protection of RIPA (the defence in section 27). Local authorities will still be able use covert surveillance for such purposes as long as it is necessary and proportionate in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to privacy).

This point is made by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner in last year’s annual report (2010/2011):

“The higher threshold in the proposed legislation will reduce the number of cases in which local authorities have the protection of RIPA when conducting covert surveillance; it will not prevent the use of those tactics in cases where the threshold is not reached but where it may be necessary and proportionate to obtain evidence covertly and there will be no RIPA audit trail. Part I of RIPA makes unauthorised interception unlawful. In contrast, Part II makes authorised surveillance lawful but does not make unauthorised surveillance unlawful.”

In his latest annual report (2011/2012) he again acknowledges (at paragraph 5.22) that there is a gap in the law which allows public authorities to undertake covert surveillance (as long as it is human rights compliant) even though it may not be authorisable under RIPA:

“I occasionally encourage the use of similar authorisation mechanisms for activity which cannot be protected by the Acts (for example where covert techniques are used to identify a missing person when no crime is suspected). In these circumstances statutory definitions are met but none of the grounds specified in RIPA section 28(3) or RIP(S)A section 6(3), yet the human rights of the subject of surveillance must be considered. The authorisation process provides a useful audit of decisions and actions.”

So when the 2012 Order comes into force, we will have a void up to the 6 month threshold where Directed Surveillance will not be authorisable under RIPA but may still be desired to be undertaken by investigating officers. What to do? From the above it seems that surveillance can be done as long as it is necessary and proportionate and a proper paper audit trail exists. It may be a good idea to complete a “Non-RIPA authorisation form.” (We have one in our RIPA Policy and Procedure Toolkit).

Will local authorities decide to do “Non-RIPA Surveillance”? Many of the delegates on our training courses have said that they will. This does go against the will of the Government and the purpose behind the changes, BUT it is lawful.

So the question is – “No six month threshold but a need to do surveillance – Should you?”I would welcome colleagues’ thoughts. Please feel free to use the comment field below.

Act now can help you prepare for the new RIPA process. Our training courses run throughout the UK. If you would like customised in house training, please get in touch.

 

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