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RIPA policy

Communications Data

5.0 Communications Data

5.1 Communications Data Order 2003

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) Order 2003 extends to local authorities the powers set out within RIPA to access communications data. Communications data includes information relating to the use of a communications service but does not include the contents of the communications itself. Communications data can be split into three types; "traffic data" i.e. where a communication was made from, to whom and when; "service data" is the use made of the service by any person eg itemised telephone records; and "subscriber data" i.e. any other information that is held or obtained by an operator on a person they provide a service to.

Local authorities are allowed to access "service data" and "subscriber data"; they are not allowed to access "traffic data".

5.2 Authorisation

The order permits access to communications data, by local authorities only where it is necessary for the prevention or detection of crime. As with surveillance, access to communications data should only be authorised where it is proportionate to the objectives the Council is seeking to achieve. It should not be authorised where less intrusive means can be used to further an investigation.

5.3 Alternative methods for authorisation

Access to communications data may be authorised in two ways; either (a) through an authorisation by an Authorising Officer which would allow the authority to collect or retrieve data itself, or (b) by a notice given to a postal or telecommunications operator requiring that operator to collect or retrieve the data and provide it to the local authority.

5.4 Application

Application will be made by the investigating officer and submitted to a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) who will either accept or reject the application. If the SPOC accepts the application he will forward it together with a SPOC report and a draft notice (where appropriate) to an Authorising Officer for authorisation. If the Authorising officer accepts the application, the forms will be returned to the SPOC and the SPOC will deal with the postal or telecommunications operator directly. The SPOC will also advise investigating officers and Authorising officers on whether an authorisation or a notice is appropriate in the circumstances. Authorisations and Notices will now require judicial approval. Authorisations and Notices will be valid for a maximum of one month from the date the Magistrate has approved the grant.

5.5 Training

The officer currently nominated as SPOC is the Director of Governance.

The Director of Governance will only undertake duties here once he has received training on a course recognised by the Home Office.

5.6 Authorising Officers

Authorising Officers for the purposes of communication data will be the same as for directed surveillance and CHIS's.

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