Communications data 'a vital resource' in many areas of police work
National Police Chiefs' Council lead on Communications Data, Assistant Chief Constable Richard Berry, has spoken about the importance of ethical, accountable use of communications data in a wide range of police investigations, following a Big Brother Watch report on the topic.
ACC Berry said: "From combating international terrorist activity to helping us locate missing people, communications data is a vital resource.
"Our ability to acquire communications data is governed by law and strict codes of practice with built in safeguards. If communications data is needed for an investigation, investigators will make an application. This application is assessed by specially trained and accredited, vetted staff within each force. They consider the important principles of necessity, proportionality and collateral intrusion. They can decline applications for communications data; this is a sign that the checks and balances in the system are working as they should.
"Many variables will determine how many applications are progressed. There is strict oversight required in law by Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office (IOCCO), which conducts detailed inspections of forces and is able to deal with trends and local circumstances. We are open to suggestions for improving our processes and respond quickly to recommendations by IOCCO. We will consider the policy recommendations suggested by this study."
FURTHER INFORMATION: We have consulted upon and written initial terms of reference for a new Digital Ethics Panel that will ensure we are meeting the highest ethical standards so that people can have confidence in how we use these powers.