|Draft Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Covert Human Intelligence Sources: Code of Practice) Order 2002
Mr. Ainsworth: My hon. Friend exposes the very dilemma that we should consider on behalf of our constituents. Getting the level of authorisation right is a major issue. If surveillance is to become more intrusive, the level of authorisation must rise. I think that we have got it right, but I do not know whether we have. The point that my hon. Friend made about protection from prosecution is very real, and nothing in the provisions protects people in the circumstances that he described from being prosecuted. However, there is a requirement on those who use human surveillance to consider the well-being and safety of the human intelligence source. I hope that every member of the Committee accepts that the police should not put people in situations where the danger to them is disproportionate to what those involved are trying to achieve. Individuals must be considered, but they are not protected from prosecution by an authorisation.
The hon. Member for Surrey Heath began by quoting The Guardian. When we discussed the previous order, all the furore was about the Food Standards Agency and local authorities, but it has now moved on to other organisations. I urge the hon. Gentleman to read the article on page 10 in The Sunday Telegraph of 30 June. I shall not quote it at length, but I shall send him a copy. It refers to a year-
Column Number: 025long investigation that was led by a local authority environmental health officer and backed up by the Food Standards Agency. The investigation uncovered the massive slaughtering of illegal and potentially contaminated meat, which was being transferred across the country and supplied systematically to the capital. A potential public health disaster was averted and as a result of an investigation seven people are in court. Surveillance was used in that operation, as were human intelligence sources. It was not a police-led operation; it was a specialist operation led by a senior environmental health officer from a London borough.
I hope that Opposition Members are not seeking to prevent people from detecting that sort of crime and prevent those who are tasked with such jobs from keeping our communities safe.
The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 5.
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