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25.2.4 The collection process


Covert surveillance should only be undertaken by trained investigators/surveillance officers. Instructions to surveillance operatives on services and actions must include the points listed below. Points a) to (d) below are of a general nature, whilst (e) and (f) are case specific. The instructions should cover:

a)avoidance of any actions which may unreasonably impinge on the privacy and rights of other people, e.g. when using photography avoid, where practicable, including other individuals such as relatives and friends, who may be in contact with the surveillance subject during the surveillance period, in the photograph.

b)where practicable, only material relevant to the purpose of conducting the covert surveillance should be collected. There should be a clear separation of facts from opinions and only relevant personal information should be included in records resulting from the surveillance.

c)instructions on the manner of collection of personal information:

  • the collection should not involve the commission of a criminal offence or give rise to a civil action, e.g. trespass on land or damage to property or goods.
  • the collection should not involve entrapment of the surveillance subject.
  • hence, passive observation is permissible, however, any attempts to actively induce the subject into a situation in which that person would not ordinarily and voluntarily enter, thereby creating a false or misleading impression of the person's abilities, is not permitted.

d)instructions by MRCC on the obligations of investigators to safeguard the material collected. The MRCC Office should ensure appropriate provisions, protecting privacy, are included in contracts engaging private contractors.

e)the method by which information is to be collected (e.g. logs with observations recorded, photography or video recordings). This should be appropriate to the purpose of collection in the particular case.

f)the period and scope of the surveillance procedure as specified above.