Thursday, 11 June 2015

Investigative Powers ~ an important report


The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation fulfills a vital role in the scrutiny of powers given to the executive and law enforcement agencies.

In 2014, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIP) was hurriedly enacted in just four days.  This added to the complex web of statutory provisions enabling some 600 public bodies to obtain information.

The Independent Reviewer (David Anderson QC) has issued a report containing  124 recommendations to seek to improve the law relating to Investigative Powers - A Question of Trust.  Primarily, Anderson calls for a comprehensive and comprehensible new law to be drafted from scratch.  A key recommendation is for greater judicial involvement in the issuing of interception warrants.  Last year, the Home Secretary issued over 2000 such warrants.  Whether Ministers will be willing to relinquish such a power remains to be seen.

Some comment
on the Report is by Joshua Rozenberg (here) and Cian Murphy (here)  

The government (Home Secretary) has issued a written statement to the House of Commons - "The Government will take full account of David Anderson’s report, which I believe offers a firm basis for consulting on our new legislation. The Government will need to give further consideration to the detail of both David Anderson’s recommendations and those in the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Privacy and Security report published in March, before we develop our proposals. But this report is a very important and valuable contribution to the continuing debate about the role of the Security, Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies, their use of investigatory powers and their oversight. The Anderson review was taken forward with cross-party support and I believe that it should help us continue to take this issue forward on the basis of cross-party consensus. The Government’s proposals will be brought forward for pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of Parliament in the autumn."

Further Investigatory Powers were envisaged in the Queen's Speech.  A little more detail was given in Briefing Notes to the Queen's Speech at pages 64 and 65.

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