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HMRC internal manual

Specialist Investigations Operational Guidance

Case identification: surveillance: directed surveillance

Work that is ‘directed surveillance’ includes the following:

  • observing people or their activities covertly, but not intrusively
  • observation on covert visits to trade premises (such as shops). Again, this is because there is a significant risk that the comings and goings or other activities of individuals (such as directors, staff or customers) will be observed, even if this is not the primary objective of the visit
  • ‘street sweeps’ where the purpose is to covertly observe particular businesses in operation, for example, to note the numbers of customers or staff
  • test meals or test purchases
  • covert surveillance work undertaken to locate a taxpayer, for example in order to serve a statutory demand.

You must obtain authorisation for all of the activities above.