Food Standards Agency

Home Office written question – answered on 5th October 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is his policy that Food Standards agents will receive training if they are authorised to participate in criminal activity in the course of their duties under Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Minister of State, Home Department

All authorisations are granted by an experienced and highly trained authorising officer who will ensure that the authorisation has strict parameters and that this is communicated to the ‘agent’ or CHIS. Authorising Officers receive robust training to ensure they understand necessity, proportionality and risk considerations.

Public authorities each have in place their own training processes for their authorising officers to reflect the specialist remit in which they operate.

The authorisation of CHIS participation in criminal conduct is, and will continue to be, subject to robust and independent oversight by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

The Commissioner has wide-ranging statutory responsibilities for the oversight of investigatory powers, including this power, which are set out in Part 8 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The Bill sets out particular requirements in relation to participation in criminal conduct. It amends the Investigatory Powers Act to provide a requirement for the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to pay particular attention to public authorities’ use of the power to grant criminal conduct authorisations under new section 29B.It also requires the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to include information about public authorities’ use of criminal conduct authorisations in his annual report. This will include information such as statistics on relevant public authorities’ of the power, the operation of safeguards in relation to authorisations, and errors.

As part of this, we anticipate that the IPC and his office will identify if any public body is failing to train and assess their officers to a sufficiently high standard.

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