Oversight of The Principles

Published on 23 December 2019

Through a formal Direction, the Prime Minister has instructed the Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) to oversee and report on the application of The Principles from 1 January 2020. The Direction is in accordance with section 230(1) of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

The Principles (formally known as The Principles relating to the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas and the passing and receipt of intelligence relating to detainees) were published on 18 July 2019 and will replace the existing Consolidated Guidance in the new year.

The Principles are intended to ensure that the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas, and the passing and receipt of intelligence on detainees, is consistent with the UK’s human rights obligations. The Prime Minister’s Direction ensures that the IPC can continue his oversight of compliance with the guidance by members of the intelligence agencies and the armed forces as the new version comes into effect.

For the first time, the guidance also applies to the National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police Service’s counter-terrorism unit (SO15).  At the request of the Home Secretary, the IPC has also agreed, on a non-statutory basis, to oversee both organisations in respect of their compliance with the guidance.

In his review of the Consolidated Guidance earlier in the year, the former IPC sought the views of civil society and others with an interest in this area through a number of questions, set out in the paper Consultation on the Consolidated Guidance. The IPC detailed his recommendations and the proposed new guidance in his final response to the Prime Minister, published 18 July 2019.


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