Covert surveillance and property interference: code of practice

Code of practice issued under section 24 of RIP(S)A which replaces the previous code which came into force in February 2015.

9. Oversight

9.1. 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. By statute 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 inspectors and others, such as technical experts, qualified to assist the IPC in his or her work (the ‘Technology Advisory Panel’).

9.2. 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.

9.3. 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, offer all necessary assistance to the IPC and anyone who is acting on behalf of the IPC.

9.4. Anyone working for a public authority that 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.

9.5. The IPC must report annually on the findings of their inspections and investigations. This report will be laid before the Scottish and UK Parliaments and will be made available to the public, subject to any necessary redactions made in the national interest. In relation to property interference, only the Prime Minister will be able to authorise redactions to the IPC’s report, after consultation with the Scottish Ministers and the IPC. If the IPC disagrees with the proposed redactions to his or her report then the IPC may inform the Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament that they disagree with them.

9.6. In relation to covert surveillance, the IPC will report annually to the Scottish Ministers in respect of the carrying out of the Commissioner’s functions and this report shall be laid before the Scottish Parliament. Any necessary redactions can only be made by the Scottish Ministers, after consultation with the IPC. The grounds for making a redaction are that the information 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.

9.7. The IPC may also report, at any time, on any of their investigations and findings as they see fit. These reports will also be made publicly available subject to public interest considerations. 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.

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


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