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Intrusive Surveillance warrants


What is it?
Intrusive surveillance is covert surveillance of anything taking place in or on a residential premises or in a private vehicle which involves the presence of an individual on the premises or in the vehicle, or the use of a surveillance device. The surveillance is intrusive because of the location where it is carried out and because it is likely to reveal private information.

Basis in law
Under section 32 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) a Secretary of State may issue a warrant to allow one of the intelligence or armed services to carry out intrusive surveillance where it is necessary to do so to carry out one of their functions.
The Secretary of State must be satisfied that:

How intrusive surveillance warrants are issued
Such warrants are issued by a Secretary of State. A warrant is valid for six months. If at any time before a warrant would cease to have effect the Secretary of State considers it necessary for the warrant to continue to have effect for the purpose for which it was issued, he or she may renew it for a period of six months beginning with  the day it would otherwise cease to have effect.

Urgent oral authorisation may be given by a Secretary of State. Warrants issued in this way are valid for a period of five days only, ending with the fifth working day following the day on which it was issued unless they are renewed.  Written applications must then be made retrospectively.

How is this used in Practice?
An intrusive surveillance warrant would typically involve planting a listening device in a house or a car, in the interests of national security.  This would normally be combined with a property warrant under section 5 of the Intelligence and Security Act (ISA).

This is the most intrusive technique available to the agencies. As such the Commissioner requires that separate consideration to be given to limit any unnecessary intrusion into privacy and specifically the privacy of any family members or friends.  A strong case must be made to explain why the information cannot be obtained through less intrusive means and that the privacy being invaded is outweighed by the necessity of the information being obtained.

Last updated: 23 Jan 16