Police Scotland made 11,000 data requests

Stephen House. Picture: John Devlin

Stephen House. Picture: John Devlin

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POLICE Scotland made more than 11,000 applications for communications data last year under controversial interception laws, new figures show.

The annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, which was published yesterday, also showed that a number of Scottish councils made use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) in 2014.

The legislation allows the authorities to ask for the “who”, “when” and “where” of phone or e-mail communication, but not its content. Police applications are made to a designated officer within the force. Across the UK, there were 517,236 authorisations for data last year, 88.9 per cent which were for police forces and law enforcement agencies.

Police Scotland made a total of 11,778 applications, resulting in 24,303 authorisations for data. The number of applications was down from around 20,000 in 2013.

Details obtained by The Scotsman show Glasgow City Council was among Scottish local authorities using the legislation. The council made one application in 2014 which resulted in seven authorisations being granted access to “subscriber information”, usually the name and address of someone linked to a mobile phone, as part of an investigation into illegal money lending.

The controversy over Ripa grew last year when it emerged the Metropolitan Police had used the act to obtain journalists’ phone records while investigating the so-called “Plebgate” affair. But the commissioner, Sir Anthony May, said there had not been “significant institutional overuse” of communications data powers by the police.

There were also 2,795 interception warrants issued, which allow communications content to be accessed.

Sixty errors were reported in those interceptions, including “over collection” and the wrong addresses being looked at.

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