For my sins I look after RIPA as well as DPA, FoIA et al.
To put it simply, the "three legged stool" test should be applied. If the
operation involves Covert methods, and includes the use of Surveillance,
and there is a likelihood (not just the intention) of Private Information
(about anyone) being obtained then it is highly likely that the operation
needs to be authorised under RIPA Part II. If any one of the legs of the
stool is missing then authorisation is not needed.
Camera phones certainly are classed as surveillance devices. If they (or
any other cameras for that matter) are used covertly then, in order to
comply with the law (because the other two legs of the stool are definitely
there), they must only be used as part of a properly authorised Directed
If, however, they are used overtly "Hey, smile for the camera please we
want people to know it is definitely you" then one of the stool legs has
dropped off and authorisation is not needed. Indeed, a number of councils,
including Redcar & Cleveland, have implemented body-mounted video cameras
carried by community safety wardens and used as part of their normal
patrols to record instances of anti-social behaviour. This has been
publicised on local TV and the wardens' jackets display an easily read
message that informs people that recording is taking place.
Hope this helps.
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