HC Deb 18 March 1997 vol 292 cc554-5W
Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what guidance chief constables in Scotland operate under in relation to electronic surveillance of suspects; and what is his Department's involvement in the process; [14131]

(2) on how many occasions chief constables in Scotland have authorised electronic surveillance of suspects outside the terms of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 in each of the last five years; [14132]

(3) what new proposals he has in respect of the powers of chief constables in Scotland to implement electronic surveillance of suspects; in what circumstances electronic surveillance operations are currently permissible. [14135]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

[holding answer 3 February 1997]: Electronic surveillance of suspects may be authorised by chief constables in Scotland in accordance with non-statutory guidelines on intrusive surveillance issued by the Scottish Office in 1985.

Under the current guidelines, intrusive surveillance may be authorised only in circumstances where the investigation concerns serious crime, normal methods of investigation have been tried and failed, or are unlikely to succeed, and there is good reason to think that the use of equipment would be likely to lead to an arrest and a conviction or, where appropriate, to the prevention of acts of terrorism.

Figures for each of the last five years are not available centrally.