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Covert Surveillance

Orkney Islands Council has produced a detailed policy and procedure for the operation of Covert Surveillance (CS) activities. The policy and procedure can be accessed from the 'More pages in this section' menu.

The Directed Surveillance Application Form is available in PDF format from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.


In some circumstances, it may be necessary for council employees where evidence can't be obtained in any other way, in the course of their duties, to make observations of a person or persons in a covert manner, i.e. without that person’s knowledge. By their nature, actions of this sort are potentially intrusive and may give rise to legal challenges as a potential breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998, “the right to respect for private and family life”.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, RIPA, and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Scotland Act 2000, RIPSA, “the Acts” together provide, for the first time, a legal framework for Covert Surveillance, CS, by public authorities and an independent inspection regime to monitor these activities.

The Orkney Islands Council policy on CS is available as a PDF from the 'Related Downloads' section of this web page.


The use of surveillance to provide information is a valuable resource for the protection of the public and the maintenance of law and order. In order that local authorities and law enforcement agencies are able to discharge their responsibilities, use is made of unaided surveillance and surveillance devices.

Where this surveillance is covert i.e. the subject of the surveillance is unaware that it is taking place, then it must be authorised to ensure that it is lawful. Close Circuit Television (CCTV) systems in the main will not be subject to this procedure as they are 'overt' forms of surveillance. However where CCTV is used as part of a pre-planned operation of surveillance then authorisation should be obtained.

The Orkney Islands Council procedure for Covert Surveillance operations is available as a PDF from the 'Related Downloads' section of this web page.

Further Information

If you require further information regarding Covert Surveillance, please telephone the Legal Team on 01856873535.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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