A message from the Commissioner by Sir Adrian Fulford

Published on 17 May 2018

After all of the work that has been needed to set up IPCO – acquiring new premises and equipment; recruiting staff and Judicial Commissioners; training the judges, the secretariat and the inspectors; working with Professor Sir Bernard Silverman to establish the Technical Advisory Panel; designing new systems; liaising with civil society, some academics and foreign oversight bodies etc. – we are now ready to commence the new warrantry regime. It has been a strenuous, intense and fascinating exercise, full of unexpected hurdles and unusual challenges. But the view of all those who will be involved in this multi-faceted process is that we are ready, and in the next few weeks we will consider the first applications (National and Technical Capability Notices). Disguised elephant traps may yet await us, but we have done all we can to anticipate problems and we are acutely conscious that we must not succumb to the dangers of complacency.

There could have been an atmosphere of polite, cool distance between us and the bodies over which we have oversight, but I am pleased to report that the exact opposite has been the case. Whilst at all times acknowledging our very different roles, the Security and Law Enforcement Agencies have been extremely cooperative and generous with their time, particularly by giving my Commissioners and staff highly detailed briefings and contributing to our extensive training regime. I am very grateful for the assistance that has been provided to IPCO during these critical days of preparation.

We are also designing a new, unified inspection regime that will build on the best of the practices developed under my three predecessors: the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the Intelligence Commissioner and the Chief Surveillance Commissioner. Different approaches had developed historically and to the extent that is possible and desirable, we will adopt a common stance on inspections. I am very grateful to all the IPCO staff and inspectors for their forbearance and patience during this difficult period of transition (which has felt, as a result, deceptively smooth).

Over the weeks and months to come, I will seek to give regular, “warts and all” descriptions of how the new regime is unfolding – the “good” alongside the “less-than-perfect”. There will be undoubted difficulties, but we have worked hard to reduce their number and minimise the risk of serious disruption. But watch this space!


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