§ Mr. Straw
The Chief Surveillance Commissioner appointed under the Police Act 1997 has a statutory responsibility to make an annual report to the Prime Minister on the exercise of his functions under the 1997 Act, and since 25 September 2000, of his additional functions as described in section 62 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). This report must be laid before Parliament. A copy of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner's most recent report is available in the Library. (Police Act 1997 Chapter 50 Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner for 1999–2000—Cm 4816).
The responsibility for appointing the Chief Surveillance Commissioner rests with the Prime Minister who is also responsible for appointing such Surveillance Commissioners and Assistant Surveillance Commissioners as he thinks fit.
§ Mr. Straw
The Office of Surveillance Commissioners was set up in 1998. It currently has four support staff in the Central Office in London, a part-time member of staff in Northern Ireland and a part-time member of staff in Scotland. The staff joined between November 1998 and February 1999.
A Chief Surveillance Commissioner was appointed in July 1998. He is supported by six part-time Surveillance Commissioners appointed in November 1998. One Commissioner resigned in April 2000 and was replaced in February 2001.
§ Mr. Straw
The aims and present work programme of the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) are twofold:125W
First, for the Chief Commissioner to keep under review the performance of functions under Part III of the Police Act 1997 and, so far as they are not required to be kept under review by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the Intelligence Services Commissioner or the Investigatory Powers Commissioners for Northern Ireland, the exercise and performance, by persons on whom they are conferred or imposed, of the powers and duties conferred or imposed by Part II of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 (RIP(S)).
Secondly, for the Surveillance Commissioners to carry out their statutory functions of (a) scrutinising and considering whether to give their prior approval to decisions to grant or renew grants of authorisations for property interference and intrusive surveillance and (b) scrutinising decisions to cancel authorisation for property interference and intrusive surveillance.
The work programme is currently being reviewed to incorporate oversight of directed surveillance and the use of covert human intelligence sources by the public authorities listed in Schedule 1 to RIPA and section 8 of RIP(S). A team of Assistant Commissioners and inspectors is to be recruited to assist with this.