HC Deb 18 December 1996 vol 287 c729W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what records are kept(a) by the Government and (b) by each individual police force concerning authorisations by senior police officers for the interception of telephone calls; how many such authorisations there have been by (i) Merseyside police and (ii) police forces in general in each year since 1984; what safeguards exist to prevent abuse; and how much manpower and cost they involve. [8853]

Mr. Howard

The interception of a communication in the course of its transmission by a public telecommunications system requires a warrant issued by the Secretary of State under the Interception of Communications Act 1985. A decision by a chief constable to monitor calls on a private telephone system operated by the police is not covered by the 1985 Act. Such a decision is an operational matter for the chief constable concerned, who is also responsible for ensuring that monitoring is appropriate in the circumstances and is not misused.

There is no central record of such authorisations by chief constables and the information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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