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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: covert activity: agreement of authorised officer to carry out covert activity

The decision to carry out covert activity must be agreed by an authorised officer, see CH260100. The authorised officer must confirm that:

  • the required information cannot be obtained using civil information or inspection powers, including those at Sch36 FA08 or the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA)
  • the information is required to check the tax position or liability to duty of a business
  • the proposed activity is reasonable and proportionate to the underlying need, see CH257600 and CH21360.

You must also consider whether you need to apply for a Directed Surveillance Authority under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000, see CH257500. Note: At the time this guidance was last updated, Local Compliance staff were not authorised to carry out directed surveillance, see LC Memo 01/14.

If you carry out covert activity where you do not need to apply for a Directed Surveillance Authority under RIPA II you must report the decision to use covert activity to the Central Authorities Bureau (CAB) in Criminal Investigation, see Surveillance – Law and Authorisation, using the ‘Record of decision to carry out covert surveillance where RIPA authorisation is not required’ template. Send this template, via your line manager, to the Central Authorities Bureau.