News story

Legislation strengthens independent oversight of undercover police operations

Policing Minister announces the government’s intention to increase the independent supervision of undercover operations.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Damian Green
Damian Green

The government is amending the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) following a number of serious allegations around historical cases.

It means the Office of Surveillance Commissioners must give prior approval for all undercover deployments which last longer than 12 months.

Policing Minister Damian Green announced the government’s intention to increase the amount of independent supervision and assessment of undercover operations earlier this year.

New legislation

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Undercover police operations are vital in the fight against terrorism and serious organised crime. However, covert powers must be used proportionately and only when necessary.

This new legislation ensures an independent third party – the Office of Surveillance Commissioners – provides enhanced judicial oversight of all undercover police deployments.

It means law enforcement agencies must notify the OSC at the outset of undercover operations and get OSC approval for deployments that last longer than 12 months.

We want the highest standards of professionalism and excellence in all aspects of policing.

The new legislation also means all deployments of undercover officers must be authorised by an assistant chief constable, while those lasting more than 12 months must be approved by a chief constable.

Published 31 October 2013