Selecting material for inspection

Our Inspectors will select casework to review ahead of a scheduled inspection. The selection will include a random sample as well as material that is based on specific “priority factors” such as:

  • the likelihood of obtaining sensitive material;
  • areas of concern raised previously at the authority or similar authorities;
  • areas of heightened public interest or concern;
  • issues highlighted through any reported errors; or
  • issues or trends identified by a Judicial Commissioner.

The Inspectors have unrestricted access to all relevant documents.

Some inspections do not require any pre-selection of material as Inspectors are given direct access to internal workflow systems containing all records. In this instance, Inspectors will take a selection from the database or run background searches to identify cases for further examination.

Each inspection gives our Inspectors insight into the processes and activities of individual public authorities. All material reviewed during an inspection is chosen by the Chief Inspector or Inspector, rather than by the authority we are inspecting.

We do not aim to review a fixed statistically representative sample because each inspection should be a process of gaining insight into the methodologies used by, and the activities of, the individual authority. On some occasions an inspection might focus on, for example, the adequacy of staff training. With the exception of some smaller establishments which rarely use their powers, or particular issues of concern such as the use of juvenile covert human intelligence sources, Inspectors do not attempt to view all the authorisations in any particular area.

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