Covert human intelligence sources: code of practice

Code of practice in relation to covert human intelligence sources issued under section 24 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000.

9. Senior responsible officers and oversight by the IPC

The senior responsible officer

9.1. Within every relevant public authority a senior responsible officer must be responsible for:

  • the integrity of the process in place within the public authority for the management of CHIS;
  • compliance with RIP(S)A and with this code;
  • oversight of the reporting of errors to the IPC and the identification of both the cause(s) of errors and the implementation of processes to minimise repetition of errors;
  • engagement with the IPC and Inspectors when they conduct their inspections, where applicable;
  • where necessary, oversight of the implementation of post-inspection action plans approved by a Judicial Commissioner; and
  • ensuring that all authorising officers are of an appropriate standard, addressing any recommendations and concerns in the inspection reports prepared by the IPC.

9.2. Within local authorities, the senior responsible officer should be a member of the corporate leadership team and should be responsible for ensuring that all authorising officers are of an appropriate standard in light of any recommendations in the inspection reports prepared by the IPC. Where an inspection report highlights concerns about the standards of authorising officers, this individual will be responsible for ensuring the concerns are addressed.

Oversight by the IPC

9.3. The IPA establishes an IPC, whose remit includes providing comprehensive oversight of the use of the powers to which this code applies, and adherence to the practices and processes described in it. The IPA requires that the IPC will be, or will have been, a member of the senior judiciary and will be entirely independent of the Scottish and UK Governments or any of the public authorities authorised to use investigatory powers. The IPC will be supported by Judicial Commissioners, Inspectors and others, such as technical experts, qualified to assist the Commissioner in their work (the 'Technology Advisory Panel').

9.4. The IPC, and those that work under the authority of the IPC, will ensure compliance with the law and this code by inspecting public authorities and investigating any issue which they believe warrants further independent scrutiny. The IPC may undertake these inspections, as far as they relate to the IPC's statutory functions, entirely on their own initiative.

9.5. The IPC will have unfettered access to all locations, documentation and information systems as necessary to carry out their full functions and duties. In undertaking such inspections, the IPC must not act in a way which is contrary to the public interest or jeopardise operations or investigations. All public authorities using investigatory powers must, by law, provide all necessary assistance to the IPC and anyone who is acting on behalf of the IPC.

9.6. Anyone working for a public authority who has concerns about the way that investigatory powers are being used may report their concerns to the IPC, who will consider them. In particular, any person who exercises the powers to which this code applies should report to the IPC any action undertaken which they believe to be contrary to the provisions of this code. The IPC may, if they believe it to be unlawful, refer any issue relating to the use of investigatory powers to the IPT.

9.7. The IPC must report annually to the Scottish Ministers in relation to the findings of their inspections and investigations. This report will be laid before the Scottish Parliament and will be made available to the public, subject to any necessary redactions made on the basis the publication would be contrary to the public interest or prejudicial to the prevention or detection of serious crime or the continued discharge of the functions of any public authority whose activities include activities subject to the review of the IPC.

9.8. The IPC may also report, at any time, to the Scottish Ministers on any matter with which they are concerned if a contravention has not already been the subject of a report made to the Scottish Ministers by the IPT. Public authorities may seek general advice from the IPC on any issue which falls within the IPC's statutory remit. The IPC may also produce guidance for public authorities on how to apply and use investigatory powers. Wherever possible, this guidance will be published in the interests of public transparency.

9.9. Further information about the IPC, their office and their work may be found at:


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