Covert Activity

Policy Scope:

This policy relates to the use of covert activity. It affects all South Yorkshire Police officers and staff, particularly those who are involved in the covert investigations. This policy primarily provides guidance for staff working on District level investigations. 

This policy should also be read in conjunction with: 

The Authorised Professional Practice (APP) section entitled Investigation

The Autorised Professional Practice (APP) section entitled covert

Policy Aims and Objectives:  

This policy seeks to make members of South Yorkshire Police aware of the procedures to be adopted when they are considering the lawful and effective use of covert techniques in a criminal investigation. 

Compliance with the Policy will ensure corporate and consistent compliance with legislation, the relevant Codes of Practice together with ACPO  guidance.

South Yorkshire Police will comply with the legislation governing covert surveillance, which is contained in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 (The 2000 Act), Part III of the Police Act 1997 (The 1997 Act) and supported by the Statutory Codes of Practice re Covert Surveillance and Property Interference.

Associated Procedural Instructions:-

D50813 Covert Activity

D50810 Technical Support Unit - Service Level Agreement

D51543 The Investigation of Protected Electronic Information

Equality Act 2010: 

The Act creates a statutory requirement for all Functions and Policies (Including Procedural Instructions) to be analysed for their effect on equality, diversity and human rights, with due regard to the General Duty.

In principle, this document has been assessed for discrimination, which cannot be justified, among other diverse groups.

Human Rights/Discretion:

The purpose of providing policy is to give an indication to staff of the expected course of action. However it is not possible to cater for every possible combination of factors that would justify a departure from stated policy. The Human Rights Act 1998 requires the proper use of discretion at all times and nothing within this policy and associated procedural instructions prohibits the proper use of discretion in appropriate circumstances.

Where action is taken that has the potential to interfere with an individual’s Human Rights, the reasons behind the making of the decision to act in that way should be recorded on the appropriate forms, or where this is not practicable, in pocket books or policy logs.

Review Arrangements: 

This policy together with its Equality Analysis will be reviewed every 2 years.

Rights of redress for members of the public: 

Anyone who feels that a member of SYP staff has behaved incorrectly or unfairly has the right to make a complaint. Initial action should be taken in one of the following ways:

  • Complaint in writing or in person to the Senior Officer at the appropriate police station or in writing to the Chief Constable of the force concerned.
  • RIPA set up the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to deal with complaints from members of the public about the use or conduct by public authorities of their statutory powers.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal
PO Box 33220

  • Visit a local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
  • Contact a solicitor.
  • Copies of the Covert Surveillance Codes of Practice (ISBN 0-11-341284-3) can be bought from TSO. Contact No 0870 600 5522, or via the internet at

Rights of redress for South Yorkshire Police staff: 

South Yorkshire Police staff who feel they have grounds for concern in relation to the implementation of policies may seek redress through any of the following:

  • Pursue concerns through their line manager.
  • Contact their First Contact officer.
  • Pursue a grievance formally through the South Yorkshire Police Fairness at Work Procedure.
  • Seek advice from their staff association or trades union.
  • Use procedural instruction D50241Management of Complaints, in the section entitled Handling Complaints relating to Direction and Control.   


23 June 2003.

This statement of agreed policy replaces previous D50812 



Wednesday, 18 April, 2012 - 00:00