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Enterprise Act 2002

Section 199 & Schedule 26: Surveillance powers & Repeals and revocations

430.Section 199 and Schedule 26 amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (‘RIPA 2000’) to grant the OFT access to intrusive surveillance powers for the United Kingdom. With these powers the Chairman may issue an authorisation for the planting of surveillance devices in residential premises (including hotel accommodation) and private vehicles. (A designated officer may grant an authorisation in an urgent case if the Chairman is not available.) Acting on information received from an informant, the OFT could, for example, use these powers to record a meeting of cartelists in a hotel room.

431.Under section 32(3)(b) RIPA 2000, one of the criteria for which an authorisation may be granted is for ‘the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime’. All applications for authorisations are subject to the scrutiny and approval of the surveillance commissioners in line with the existing procedural safeguards in RIPA 2000. When an authorisation is granted, the OFT intends to outsource the technical deployment of the intrusive surveillance activity to other public authorities which already have access to these powers and practical experience of exercising them.

432.The OFT has applied separately to the Home Office for an Order to grant authorised officers access to directed surveillance (essentially monitoring the movement of people and vehicles) and covert human intelligence sources (essentially the use of informants) under sections 28 & 29 RIPA 2000. OFT has also applied to the Home Office for an Order to grant authorised officers access to communication data (primarily postal and telephone records) under section 22 RIPA 2000. These powers will be available for both civil and criminal investigations.

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