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Added 27 November, 2001

First Year Statistics under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

Extracts from the reports are included in these pages. For the full reports follow the links.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Chapter 23:-

Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2000 , Commissioner: THE RT HON SIR SWINTON THOMAS, Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister by Command of Her Majesty, Laid before the Scottish Parliament by the, Scottish Ministers, October 2001, Cm 5296

From: The Right Honourable Sir Swinton Thomas
The Interception of Communications Commissioner
c/o 50 Queen Anneís Gate
London SW1H 9AT

2 August 2001

Dear Prime Minister

I enclose my first Annual Report on the discharge of my functions under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. It is, of course, for you to decide, after consultation with me, how much of the report should be excluded from publication on the grounds that it is prejudicial to national security, to the prevention or detection of serious crime, to the economic well-being of the United Kingdom, the continued discharge of the functions of any public authority whose activities include activities subject to my review (section 58(7) of the Act). Following the practice of my predecessor, I have taken the course of writing the report in two parts, the confidential annex containing those matters which in my view should not be published. I hope that this is a convenient course.

Sir Swinton Thomas

The extent of interception

14. As in the past, the annex to this Report contains a summary of the numbers of warrants in force at the end of 2000 and those issued throughout the course of the year by the Home Secretary and a composite figure comprising the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish First Minister. The great majority of warrants issued in England and Wales and Scotland remain related to the prevention and detection of serious crime. The continuing incidence of serious and organised crime and an increased facility to counter it are the main cause of the larger numbers of warrants. The substantial annual increases which have occurred and have resulted in a corresponding increase in the workload of the Secretaries of State and on the part of the relevant Agencies clearly call for the exercise of vigilant supervision. I can report that the level of scrutiny has been and continues to be generally well maintained. That said, I am concerned about the number of errors reported during the year. I have been assured that changes have been put in place to try and ensure that there is no repetition of these in the future. I will, of course, continue to monitor the system to satisfy myself that every effort is being made to prevent such recurrences and seeking full explanations where the systems fail.

Conclusion

45. The interception of communications is, as my predecessors have expressed in their Reports, an invaluable weapon for the purpose set out in section 5(3) of RIPA and, in particular, in the battle against serious crime. The task of the Agencies working in this field has become much more difficult and complex as a result of the proliferation of mobile telephones and the greater sophistication of criminals and terrorists. RIPA brought the legislation up to date in the light of new developments in technology in the communications industry, such as e-mail, satellite telephones, radio pagers and the like and the proliferation of mobile telephones. An individual warrant may permit the interception of the person named in the warrant or named premises. The law was simplified in relation to the implementation of warrants, the issue of emergency warrants, their duration and their discharge. These changes have increased the efficiency of the enforcement agencies and the speed with which, in appropriate circumstances, they may act but in each case they are covered by section 15 safeguards.

 

*This figure (606) includes 472 IOCA warrants that were revalidated as RIPA warrants on the coming into force of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 on 2 October 2000.


Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2000 , Commissioner:THE RT HON LORD JUSTICE SIMON BROWN , Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister by Command of Her Majesty, Laid before the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Ministers, October 2001, Cm 5297

From: The Right Honourable Lord Justice Simon Brown
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2A 2LL

17 July 2001

Dear Prime Minister

I enclose my first Annual Report on the discharge of my functions under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. It is, of course, for you to decide, after consultation with me, how much of the report should be excluded from publication on the grounds that it is prejudicial to national security, to the prevention or detection of serious crime, to the economic well-being of the United Kingdom, the continued discharge of the functions of any public authority whose activities include activities that are subject to my review (section 60(5) of the Act). Following the practice of my predecessor, I have taken the course of writing the report in two parts, the confidential annex containing those matters which in my view should not be published. I hope that this is a convenient course.

Lord Justice Simon Brown

The Issue of Property Warrants

19. Section 5 of ISA provides for the Secretary of State to issue warrants authorising entry on or interference with property or with wireless telegraphy (which for convenience I shall refer to as property warrants). Applications may be made by the Security Service, SIS or GCHQ in respect of their respective statutory functions. Additionally, where assisting the other intelligence services, the Security Service may apply on behalf of SIS and GCHQ, even if the proposed operations is outside the Security Serviceís own functions. This latter facility reflects the position that the Home Secretary or, in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Security Service should normally have responsibility for operations which may affect people in the United Kingdom. In the case of SISís and GCHQís anti-crime function, warrants authorising entry on or interference with property may not be issued for operations relating to property in the United Kingdom. Generally speaking, property warrants are issued to the Security Service by the Home Secretary or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and to SIS and GCHQ by the Foreign Secretary. Other Secretaries of State, however, may deputise. For example, the Home Secretary may issue warrants to SIS or GCHQ if the Foreign Secretary is absent, and the Foreign Secretary or the Northern Ireland Secretary may issue warrants to the Security Service if the Home Secretary is absent.

20. Section 5 of ISA, as amended first by section 2 of the Security Service Act 1996 and recently by section 74 of RIPA, now requires that before such a warrant is issued (to legitimise action by way of entry on or interference with property or with wireless telegraphy) the Secretary of State (a) must think the proposed action necessary for the purpose of assisting the particular intelligence agency to carry out one of its statutory functions as described above (section 5(2)(a)); (b) must be satisfied that the action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve (section 5(2)(b)); and (c) must be satisfied that the agency has in place satisfactory arrangements for securing that it shall not obtain or disclose information except insofar as necessary for the proper discharge of one of its functions (section 5(2)(c)); and in deciding whether requirements (a) and (b) are satisfied, the Secretary of State must take into account whether what is thought necessary to achieve by the action could reasonably be achieved by other means (section 5(2A)).

The giving of Section 7 authorisations

21. Under section 7 of ISA the Secretary of State (in practice the Foreign Secretary) may authorise SIS to carry out acts outside the United Kingdom which are necessary for the proper discharge of one of its functions. As with section 5 warrants, before the Secretary of State gives any such authority, he must first be satisfied of a number of matters: (a) that the acts being authorised (or acts in the course of an authorised operation) will be necessary for the proper discharge of an SIS function (section 7(3)(a)); (b) that satisfactory arrangements are in force to secure that nothing will be done in reliance on the authorisation beyond what is necessary for the proper discharge of an SIS function (section 7(3)(b)(i)); (c) that satisfactory arrangements are in force to secure that the nature and likely consequences of any acts which may be done in reliance on the authorisation will be reasonable having regard to the purposes for which they are carried out (section 7(3)(b)(ii)); and (d) that satisfactory arrangements are in force to secure that SIS shall not obtain or disclose information except insofar as is necessary for the proper discharge of one of its functions (section 7(3)(c)).

22. By virtue of section 7(4)(a) of ISA, authorisations may be given for acts of a specified description. These are known as class authorisations and, as noted in my predecessorís report for 1999, examples of the type of act which they could cover are the obtaining of documents which might involve theft, or payment to an agent which might involve bribery.

23. The purpose of section 7 is to ensure that SISís activities overseas, which might otherwise expose its agents to liability in the United Kingdom, are expressly authorised by the Secretary of State.

Authorisation of intrusive surveillance

24. Intrusive surveillance is covert surveillance undertaken in residential premises or a private vehicle. Typically it would involve sound or video eavesdropping in someoneís house or car. There is now provision for such action on the part of any of the intelligence services to be authorised by the Secretary of State by way of warrant (section 42 of RIPA). The Secretary of State can only authorise such action if he believes (a) that it is necessary in the interests of national security, or for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime, or in the interests of the United Kingdomís economic well-being (sections 32(2)(a) and 32(3)); and (b) that the authorised surveillance is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve (section 32(2)(b)); and, in deciding whether those two requirements are satisfied, the Secretary of State must take into account whether the information it is thought necessary to obtain by the surveillance could reasonably be obtained by other means.

Authorisation of directed surveillance

25. Directed surveillance is covert surveillance but not intrusive surveillance undertaken for the purposes of a specific investigation or operation in a manner likely to reveal private information about someone. Section 28 of RIPA now provides, amongst other things, for designated persons within each of the intelligence services to authorise such action but only if they believe that it is necessary in the interests of national security, for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, or in the interests of the economic well-being of the UK, and that it is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve.

Authorisation of covert human intelligence sources

26. Covert human intelligence sources are essentially people who are members of or act on behalf of one of the intelligence services to obtain information from people who do not know that this information will reach the intelligence service. Section 29 of RIPA now provides for the conduct or use of a covert human intelligence source to be authorised by a designated person within the relevant intelligence service provided that he believes that the authorisation is necessary in the interests of national security, for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, or in the interests of the economic well-being of the UK, and that the conduct or use of the source is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve.