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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: covert activity: activity where authorisation to carry out directed surveillance under RIPA II is required

‘Surveillance’ is described in Section 48(2) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 as including the following:

  • monitoring, observing or listening to persons, their movements, their conversations or their other activities or communications
  • recording anything monitored, observed or listened to in the course of any surveillance
  • surveillance by or with the assistance of a surveillance device.

Directed surveillance includes any covert monitoring of a person’s activities that is likely to result in obtaining private information about a person.

It is highly unlikely that covert activity, such as test purchases, that is carried out purely to assess a level of business activity will result in you obtaining private information about an individual.

Before you carry out any covert activity where it is likely that you will acquire private information, you must:

  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • contact the Central Authorities Bureau (CAB) (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • apply for a Directed Surveillance Authority.

All staff carrying out directed surveillance must have received training in surveillance see Surveillance – Law and Authorisation.

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.