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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: establishing the facts: covert surveillance: authorisation

This page explains how to

  • get your decision to use covert surveillance agreed by an authorised officer
  • make a Directed Surveillance Authority (DSA) Application under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) if you are a FIS Civil caseworker
  • report the outcome of non-RIPA authorised covert surveillance to the ISBC Covert Activity SPoC.

Check conditions are met

Get an authorised officer to agree

Plan the surveillance

Make a Directed Surveillance Authority (DSA) Application

Record the outcome of the surveillance 

Report the outcome of non-RIPA authorised covert surveillance to the ISBC Covert Activity SPoC

{#checkconditions}Check conditions are met

Before you approach the authorised officer make sure that the intended covert surveillance is

  • necessary because the tax liability can’t be established in a less intrusive way
  • proportionate in view of the potential amount of tax yield that is likely to result.

{#authorisedofficer}Get an authorised officer to agree

Send the authorised officer a request for agreement including a brief description of

  • the business and its compliance history
  • the nature of the risk and the potential tax yield
  • the information you need to obtain
  • when and how you intend to carry out the surveillance
  • why the risk can’t be addressed in a less intrusive way
  • any previous covert activity on this person
  • the estimated costs.

For non-RIPA covert surveillance use this form and capture it in Caseflow or other case management document store. The authorised officer should send it back to you with their decision. Save this in Caseflow as well.

FIS Civil caseworkers who intend to make a Directed Surveillance Authority (DSA) Application, should use SEES form IT01_02_Internal.

{#plan}Plan the surveillance

  1. Do a Health and Safety risk assessment.
  2. Produce briefing documents.
  3. Brief participants.
  4. Arrange vehicles.

{#directedauthority}Make a Directed Surveillance Authority (DSA) Application (FIS Civil caseworkers only)

  1. Contact the ISBC Covert Activity SPOC to discuss your proposals. They will liaise with CAB and obtain a unique reference number and ENF 3222 Form to be completed.
  2. Submit the ENF 3222 Form to the CAB with details of your proposed covert surveillance plans.
  3. Capture it in Caseflow or other case document store.
  4. You may not carry out the activity until you have formal authority.
  5. Complete and submit form ENF3224 to cancel the directed surveillance authority when it is no longer needed.

For more information go to Surveillance Law and Authorisation

{#record}Record the outcome of the surveillance

Record the details in Caseflow or other case management system.

{#reportoutcomes}Report the outcome of non-RIPA authorised covert surveillance to the ISBC Covert Activity SPoC

  1. Complete Section B of the form ‘Submission to Authorised Officer, Record of decision to carry out covert surveillance which does not require RIPA authority’ with details of the information you gathered and how it contributed to the calculation of tax yield.
  2. Send it to your line manager or other decision maker who will complete it and send it to the ISBC Covert Activity SPoC.