The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) decision in 2016 found that the Professional Standards Department (PSD) of Cleveland Police had inappropriately sought and obtained authorisations under and within PSD in relation to the use of powers to obtain communications data.
Both the former Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and the then Chief Constable recognised the seriousness of the issues which emerged in the course of the IPT hearing. A decision was made (Decision Notice 2016-23430) to proactively determine whether the apparent failings in this one case, may or may not be symptomatic of individual, institutional or systemic failings and accordingly the Commissioner and Chief Constable agreed to conduct a full audit and review of cases dealt with by PSD (including the Anti-Corruption Unit), between 2011 and 2017 in which telephone communications data authorisation was sought.
Accordingly the former Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland (in conjunction with the then Chief Constable) appointed Weightmans LLP to carry out a specialist legal compliance review, for the period since 1st January 2011 to 30 June 2017, with a view to determining whether RIPA authorisations were sought in a procedurally and legally correct manner and authorised in accordance with all relevant legislation, case law, and guidance.
The specification for the review required that the resulting report would be suitable for publication, subject to the Chief Constable’s discretion as to operational sensitivity, and subject to other compelling public interest considerations. The specification also made provision to the effect that there should be no obligation upon the Contractor to share data (obtained or generated in the process of provision of the Services) with the Police and Crime Commissioner in circumstances in which the Chief Constable considered that such data was operationally sensitive in nature and whose disclosure to the Police and Crime Commissioner would be other than in accordance with normal operational principles.
The Weightmans LLP review is now complete and as part of a pre-publication process Weightmans LLP invited key stakeholders to attend at their offices to inspect the report and, where applicable, to raise any issues with the content of the report. The invitation to inspect the full report included interested parties and included the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, the Independent Office of Police Conduct.
The stakeholder engagement has been conducted independently by Weightmans LLP and has resulted in a short Addendum to the report that takes account of the responses provided during the stakeholder engagement stage.
This Decision Notice records the decision of the Acting Police and Crime Commissioner in respect of publication (in full or in part) of the Weightmans LLP Report and the Addendum report.
The Acting PCC and Chief Constable of Cleveland Police continue the original commitment to publish the full Report and Addendum by Weightmans LLP. This commitment was also made to relevant parties to the IPT findings into the unlawful use of RIPA authorisations.