These codes set out the processes and safeguards governing the use of investigatory powers by public authorities, including the police and security and intelligence agencies. They give detail on how the relevant powers should be used, including examples of best practice. They are intended to provide additional clarity and to ensure the highest standards of professionalism and compliance with this important legislation.
These codes are primarily intended to guide those public authorities which are able to exercise powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Once issued, the codes of practice have statutory force and individuals exercising functions to which the codes relate must have regard to them. They are admissible in evidence in criminal and civil proceedings and may be taken into account by any court, tribunal or supervisory authority when determining a question arising in connection with those functions. Each code includes an introductory chapter to explain its individual scope and the powers it relates to.
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the Secretary of State is required to issue codes of practice about the exercise of functions under the Act. Prior to issuing any codes, the Secretary of State must prepare and publish draft codes. This consultation fulfils that requirement.
Following the consultation, the Secretary of State must consider any representations made about the drafts and Parliament must approve the final codes before they can come into effect.