Nine agencies with interception powers are inspected annually:

  • Security Service (MI5)
  • Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6)
  • Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  • Metropolitan Police Service
  • Ministry of Defence
  • National Crime Agency
  • Police Scotland
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland

Law enforcement agencies are asked to provide a full list of the relevant authorisations, including contextual details, to aid the selection of material for scrutiny at inspection.

Casework is reviewed to establish whether internal documentation adequately sets out the matters taken into consideration, such as why the interception was deemed necessary and how intrusion into privacy will be managed and minimised. Individuals involved in the interception are interviewed, including analysts and linguists.

We also work with the interception agencies to ensure that their systems and processes are adequate to meet the requirements of the law. This includes query-based searches which are conducted to test compliance and identify how the intercepted material is being used. We consider whether the intrusion is appropriately handled and minimised, and whether the interception is stopped at the appropriate point in the operation. We also look at whether the retention, storage and destruction arrangements are adequate.

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