Spy Blog

Watching Them, Watching Us

UK Commissioners Links - Updated 30th November 2012

Who are the people who are meant to act as checks and balances against any abuses of power by United Kingdom Government and Commerce, when they invade your privacy ?

Office of the Information Commissioner

Information Commissioner's Office

Christopher Graham, former Director General of the Advertising Standards Authority, succeeded Richard Thomas CBE as Information Commissioner in June. 2009.

The Information Commissioner has powers under the Data Protection Act 1998, and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Underfunded, and understaffed and with no real criminal enforcement powers

Search the Register of Data Controllers

Main ICO contact page: https://www.ico.gov.uk/Global/contact_us.aspx

ICO Head Office

Office of the Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

DX 20819

telephone: 01625 545 745
fax: 01625 545 510
email: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

N.B. The Information Commissioner now has some regional offices as well, including one in Scotland,

Press and media enquiries

Call 020 7025 7580

Regional offices

Information Commissioner's Office - Scotland
93 - 95 Hanover Street
Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
Tel: 0131 301 5071
Fax: 0131 301 5069
Email: scotland@ico.gsi.gov.uk


Information Commissioner's Office - Wales
Cambrian Buildings
Mount Stuart Square
Cardiff CF10 5FL
Tel: 029 2044 8044
Fax: 029 2044 8045
Email: wales@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Northern Ireland

Information Commissioner's Office - Northern Ireland
51 Adelaide Street
Belfast, BT2 8FE
Tel: 028 9026 9380
Fax: 028 9026 9388
Email: ni@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Scottish Information Commissioner

Even though the ICO has a Regional Office in Scotland, this is not the same as the separate Scottish Information Commissioner - Rosemary Agnew, who took up office on 1 May 2012 She oversees the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Main contact page: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/ContactSIC/Contact.asp

Scottish Information Commissioner,
Kinburn Castle,
Doubledykes Road,
St Andrews, Fife
KY16 9DS

Telephone: 01334 464610
Fax: 01334 464611
email: enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info

RIPA Commissioners

There are several Commissioners whose offices have been set up as a result of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000:

N.B. all of these RIPA Commissioners are currently exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), by virtue of the cunning ploy by the Department for Constititional Affairs in deliberately not having formally listed them as "public authorities" under the periodically revised Schedule 1 of the Act, despite them meeting all of the statutory criteria i.e. appointed by a Minister of State (in this case the Prime Minister), and/or established by an Act of Parliament (RIPA), exactly like the the Information Commissioner, or any Chief Constavkle of a Police Force etc., who are all subject to the FOIA, with lots of exemptions which would cover anything confidential relating to the details of individual cases.

Chief Surveillance Commissioner

Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, regulates Covert Surveillance according to Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, but not for CCTV etc. in general. The most open of the RIPA Commissioners, at least they have a website

Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose
Chief Surveillance Commissioner
Office of Surveillance Commissioners
PO Box 29105,
London, SW1V 1ZU
Tel: 020 7828 3421
Fax: 020 7592 1788

Email: oscmailbox@osc.gsi.gov.uk

Website: Office of Surveillance Commissioners

Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose took over from Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew Leggatt on 1st July 2006 - (see the appointment press release in November 2005)

Under section 61 of RIPA, there is also the post of Investigatory Powers Commissioner for Northern Ireland, who is appointed by the Prime Ministerafter consultation with the First Minister and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland,

Northern Ireland had a Surveillance Commissioner, who was until September 2004, Rt. Hon. Sir John MacDermott, under the terms of Section 91 of the Police Act 1997.

This strictly Northern Irish post appears to be vacant, but presumably the work in Northern Ireland is done under the auspices off the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, by any of the Surveillance Commissioners.

Interception of Communications Commissioner

Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy (appointed from 11th April 2006 for 3 years, re-apponted until 10th April 2012) the Interception of Communications Commissioner regulates the interception of phone calls, computer communications and postal letters etc. according to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and now seems to be set to oversee the annual million or so Communications Data requests for data from the Data Retention scheme set up under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. He also inspects, on a voluntary basis, the interception regimes in Her Majesty's Prisons.

Currently this post is held by Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy, but from 1st January 2013, this is:

Rt. Hon. Sir Anthony May
Interception of Communications Commissioner,

The Interception of Communications Commissioner
c/o The Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Intelligence Services Commissioner

The Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller has been appointed as Intelligence Services Commissioner from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013. Astonishingly this appointment was only officially announced 3 weeks after his actual appointment - see:

Intelligence Services Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller appointed early, announced late

Neither the Cabinet Office nor the Home Office switchboards seem to know how to contact the Intelligence Services Commmissioner, so how are ordinary members of the public who fear that they have been snooped on or worse, illegally or disproportionately by the Intelligence Agencies, ever going to alert him about their complaints ?

The Home Office seem to have him listed under "see MI5", which is, of course, only part of his remit.

Perhaps the best contact point is, again, care of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal i.e.

Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller,
Intelligence Services Commissioner,
c/o Investigatory Powers Tribunal,
PO Box 33220,

The previous incumbent was Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, who seems so busy with the Commission investigating claims about the active use of or passive complicity with torture of terrorist suspects by the UK Intellegence Agencies, that he can no longer do both jobs at once.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal presided over by Lord Justice John Mummery, investigate complaints about the intelligence services or relating to the interception of communications. N.B. they have never upheld a complaint from the public, possibly because of the difficulty of knowing that you are under secret surveillance in the first place, let alone complaining about it, if it seems to be unjustified.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is also currently exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (as are other Trubunals).

It is also empowered to investigate complaints about RIPA Part III section 49 notices, demanding that you hand over your cryptographic decryption keys, or plaintext which has been electronically protected by strong cryptography.

Current Members of the investigatory Powers Tribunal:

Lord Justice Mummery (President)
Mr Justice Burton (Vice President)
Sir Richard Gaskell
Sheriff Principal John McInnes QC
Mr Peter Scott QC
Mr Robert Seabrook QC

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal
PO Box 33220
Tel: 0207 035 3711

The Intelligence Services Act 1994 establishes the legal basis for the Secret Service MI5, for the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ.

It also establishes the Intelligence Services Commissioner (details under the RIPA section above).

Intelligence and Security Committee


The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Committee has developed its oversight remit, with the Government's agreement, to include examination of intelligence-related elements of the Cabinet Office including: the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC); the Assessments Staff; and the Intelligence, Security and Resilience Group. The Committee also takes evidence from the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which assists the Committee in respect of work within the Committee's remit.

The Prime Minister appoints the ISC Members after considering nominations from Parliament and consulting with the Leader of the Opposition. The Committee reports directly to the Prime Minister, and through him to Parliament, by the publication of the Committee's reports.

The Members are subject to Section 1(1)(b) of the Official Secrets Act 1989 and have access to highly classified material in carrying out their duties. The Committee takes evidence from Cabinet Ministers and senior officials – all of which is used to formulate its reports.

This Committee used to be housed in the Cabinet Office, but it appears that Gordon Brown and his Labour apparatchiki managed to compromise the independence of the ISC through ignorance or malice, so they have struck out a little bit on their own. Incredibly the ISC's Annual Reports etc. are now published online by Google rather than on a Parliamentary or Government run website.


Current membership:

Yet again, nobody has been appointed, who has any clue about asking the right questions about complicated multi-million pound IT computing and technology projects , which consume so much of the Intellignece Agencies budgets. Hazel Blears in particular had direct Ministerial responsibility for the appallingly intrusive waste of public money that was the National Identity Scheme.


Contacting the Intelligence and Security Committee:

Postal Address

Intelligence and Security Committee
35 Great Smith Street

email: committee@isc.x.gsi.gov.uk

The x.gsi.gov.uk email address means that it emails from other x.gsi.gov.uk recipients will be encrypted, but only to the level of Confidential protective marking. The .gsi.gov.uk email gateways should be reasonably resistant to viruses, spam and denial of service attacks. However, this email address offers no encryption protection whatsover for members of the public or whistleblowers from within the intelligence agencies or Whitehall.

Crucially, the Communications Data for this ISC email address is not protected from being legally snooped on, in secret, by the very people it should be investigating and holding to account i.e. the intelligence agencies.

No phone number, no SMS mobile phone for text messages, no SSl /TLS encrypted web contact form, no published PGP Public Encryption key - all still says we do not want to hear from whistleblowers inside the Intelligence Agencies exposing incompetence, corruption or illegality etc. or from the general public.

See the Spy Blog category archive Intelligence and Security Committee

You can try to contact the individual Members of Intelligence and Security Committee care of the Houses of Parliament or the individual MPs via TheyWorkForYou or WriteToThem, which are also convenient ways of finding out who your own constituency Member of Parliament is, which is the other obvious route to initiate or to follow up any problems you may have with any major data privacy or surveillance issues.

National Identity Scheme Commissioner See the cross party NO2ID Campaign for powerful opposition and anlysis of this wretched scheme and ensure that nothing similar is ever proposed again.

Thankfully the Office of the Identity Commissioner has now been abolished together with the National Identity Scheme !

Protection of Freedoms Act 2011 - another couple of weak Commissioners

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition government has enacted, as a sop to the "civil liberties lobby", Protection of Freedoms Act 2011. the establishment of a couple of weak, unnacountable, underfunded, secretive, part-time i.e. worse than useless, RIPA Commissioner type , sops to public accountability and transparency - more details if and when these are created:

Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material - a Nine Word Job Title !

[not yet appointed] - only 3 days a week - c.f. the job advert

Surveillance Camera Commissioner

As of October 2012 this post is held by Andrew Rennison who also manages to be the Forensic Science Regulator

The contact details for Andrew Rennision acting as Surveillance Camera Commissioner are still secret, but you may be able to get through to him via:

Home Office Forensic Science Regulation Unit
5 St Philips's Place
Colmore Row
B3 2PW

Telephone: 0121 200 3830

Independent Police Complaints Commission

The Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission is Dame Anne Owers


The IPCC was established by the Police Reform Act and became operational in April 2004. Its primary statutory purpose is to increase public confidence in the police complaints system in England and Wales.

The IPCC also investigates the most serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police in England and Wales, as well as handling appeals from people who are not satisfied with the way police have dealt with their complaint.

In April 2006, the IPCC’s remit was extended to include serious complaints relating to staff at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

February 2008 saw its jurisdiction extended further to include serious complaints and conduct matters relating to officers and officials at the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

The IPCC is independent, making its decisions entirely independently of the police, government and complainants.

Contact details - note that warnings about the recording of phone calls and the destruction of paper doccuments.

Customer Services: 08453 002 002 (press 1 at prompt - 9.00am - 5.00pm)

Switchboard: 08453 002 002 (press 2 at prompt - 9.00 am - 5.00pm)
Please note for our joint protection and training purposes calls may be recorded

Mincom: 020 7404 0431 Fax: 020 7404 0430 email: enquiries.gsi.gov.uk

Text Relay: 18001 0207 166 3000
If you are a deaf or hard of hearing customer you can contact the IPCC using Text Relay, in order to do this please use the following number: Please note that all correspondence and supporting documentation received by the IPCC's Casework and Customer Services Directorate will be copied electronically. The paperwork will then be securely destroyed after 14 days unless it is requested that originals should be retained, in which case they will be returned by standard delivery post.

To make a complaint against the police please visit the ‘complaints’ section for information.

Our Customer Service Team are available Monday - Friday 9.00 am - 5.00pm to provide information on making a complaint against the police, the work of the IPCC and for all general enquiries.

Please note we cannot provide advice on your rights or provide legal advice.

The IPCC does not operate a face-to-face service - please note if you do visit our offices you should not expect to be seen by a member of staff. We will mainly communicate with you in writing, or by phone.

For our joint protection and for training purposes calls may be recorded.

Regional Offices:

London & SE office
Independent Police Complaints Commission
5th Floor
90 High Holborn

Wales & South West office
Independent Police Complaints Commission
Eastern Business Park
Wern Fawr Lane
St Mellons

Central office
Independent Police Complaints Commission
Independent House
Whitwick Business Park
Stenson Road
LE67 4JP

North East office
Independent Police Complaints Commission
Evergreen House
Unit C, Cedar Court Office Park
Denby Dale Road
Calder Grove

North West office
Independent Police Complaints Commission
1st Floor
Oaklands House
Washway Road
M33 6FS

Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland

The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland is currently Professor John McNeill.


Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland
Hamilton House
Hamilton Business Park,
Caird Park,

Freephone: 0808 178 5577

Email: enquiries@pcc-scotland.org

Fax: 01698 542 901

Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Dr. Michael Maguire is the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland


Police Ombudsman Office,
New Cathedral Buildings,
St Anne's Square,
11 Church Street,

T: 0845 601 2931
T: 028 9082 8600
F: 028 9082 8659
Minicom: 028 9082 8756
Email: info@policeombudsman.org

Freedom of Information Act

Although all of the public offices above should qualify to be on the list of Public Bodies to which the Freedom of Information Act applies, by virtue of their meeting criteria of having been set up by an Act of Parliament and / or appointed by a Government Minister. Only the Information Commissioner, the Scottish Information Commissioner and the National Identity Scheme Commissioner the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland and the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland are currently on that list, and will accept FOIA requests.

Most request FOIA requests to these Commissioners have been about the backlogs and delays, in processing the complaints which they get from the public.

Updated 30th November 2012

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