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Investigatory Powers Commissioner: Annual Report

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 6 January 2022

I have today laid before both Houses a copy of the annual report of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Brian Leveson.

Overall, this report demonstrates that the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and other relevant public authorities’ use of investigatory powers shows extremely high levels of operational competence combined with respect for the law. The report also sets out the breadth and complexity of the powers covered by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and other legislation and offers constructive criticism on the practical framework and individual instances of how these are used. Where the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) has identified problems, Departments and agencies have worked hard to address these.

This year the commissioner has decided not to include a confidential annex to the report, as allowed under section 234 of the 2016 Act, as all relevant issues have been covered in this report. This has been subject to consultation with relevant Government Departments and agencies, and I am content it is not prejudicial to national security.

I would like to add that this report demonstrates the high quality of the oversight of our intelligence and security agencies’ use of the most intrusive powers. I am satisfied that our arrangements are among the strongest and most effective in the world. Despite the unique challenges which covid-19 created, the commissioner notes their oversight has been no less rigorous than in previous years and his report details the changes they made to their inspection practice to ensure this.

I would like to place on record my thanks to the current and previous commissioners and their staff for their work, as well as echoing the commissioner’s thanks to the agencies and Departments and civil society organisations which have helped with the establishment of the IPCO over the past few years. I join him in extending my particular thanks to all those who took on the responsibility of serving as temporary judicial commissioners under section 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 during the lockdown period, who ensured the work of the IPCO was able to continue uninterrupted.

I commend this report to the House.