This is a single section from Chapter 21. Read the full chapter here.

Who should exercise search and surveillance powers?

Search and surveillance powers should be held by a person with the appropriate level of expertise and accountability.

In general, the more invasive the search or surveillance power is, the more expertise and accountability the person holding the power should have. At a practical level, the person exercising the power must have access to the information and means to exercise the power (such as sufficient facts to determine whether the prerequisite conditions for exercising the power have been met) and sufficient expertise (perhaps demonstrated by training, qualifications, and experience) to exercise any discretion.

In relation to accountability, officials must consider whether the person exercising the power will be subject to sufficient safeguards, appropriate to the nature of the decision and proportionate to the invasiveness of the power. Safeguards could include one or more of the following:

  • oversight or supervision of the exercise of the power by a person with higher levels of accountability:
  • requirements to publicly report on the exercise of the powers:
  • being potentially subject to investigation by the Ombudsmen or subject to the Official Information Act 1982.

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