Hertfordshire police remain tight-lipped over use of anti-terror powers

PUBLISHED: 15:54 04 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:58 04 November 2014




Labyrinthine recording of the use of anti-terror powers has meant Hertfordshire Constabulary was unable to answer questions on how it has used them.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Welwyn Hatfield Times asked the force to provide details of the use of the surveillance powers granted to it under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) over the last two years.

But the request was refused as it was deemed too time consuming and expensive to provide answers because “there are no specific searchable recording categories”.

The force also failed to answer our supplementary question to provide details of who signed off the warrants and why.

The Welwyn Hatfield Times requested: “Please provide a breakdown of all instances where the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 has been used by Hertfordshire Constabulary between October 7 2012 and October 7 2014.

“The response should include a breakdown of the offences detected (if any) and a town/city name or geographical area where the offenders live or lived.

“Also please provide details of who authorised the issuance of interception warrants and the reasons why.”

Hertfordshire Constabulary also failed to provide answers on the same subject to civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, which had submitted a Freedom of Information Act request itself, despite neighbouring forces like Cambridgeshire and Bed-
fordshire being able to account for their actions.

The force came under fire over its stance.

MP Grant Shapps said: “It’s obviously right for the police to provide as much information as possible about the way in which they’re going about their work and how many times various powers have been used.

“Particularly those of a sensitive nature.”

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The police should not be able to keep the details secret of how and why members of the public are spied on. To do so whilst not having to seek a court’s approval to use the powers is simply unacceptable.”

A police spokesman said: “Hertfordshire Constabulary takes its responsibilities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) very seriously and will only undertake 
such investigations if there is a valid policing purpose that complies with all legislative requirements.”

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