• What we do

    Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies require a warrant to access certain information for investigative purposes. When a warrant is requested and approved by a Secretary of State, a Judicial Commissioner must also authorise this before it can be activated. This is referred to as the ‘double-lock’. This ensures that all Investigatory Powers Act warrants issued are necessary, proportionate and lawful.

    Judicial Commissioners also provide independent authorisation for applications from Law Enforcement Agencies who wish to use other investigatory powers.

    By conducting robust, evidence-based inspections of the use of investigatory powers, the Inspectorate ensures that those public bodies authorised to use investigatory powers are doing so lawfully and in line with best practice. They produce thorough and impartial reports which support and inform the work of the IPC and the Judicial Commissioners.

    In addition to its inspection duties, the Inspectorate carries out ad hoc investigations into potential non-compliance. In such circumstances, for example where IPCO may have been made aware of a serious error, the inspectors may carry out an in-depth investigation into the potential non-compliance and its root causes. After a thorough investigation, the Inspectorate produces a report to advise the relevant organisation on how to address any shortcomings.

    IPCO has values based on transparency and independence. IPCO’s communications and policy experts engage with others to enhance public confidence in the use of investigatory powers and improve understanding of IPCO’s independent oversight. IPCO consults partners from across the sector, advising and learning from others to encourage good practice.