Internal documents reveal that UK police and/or security and intelligence agencies may have the authority to provide surveillance support in certain circumstances. The City of London Police reportedly provided surveillance tools and support to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), with the understanding that specific details surrounding the police's surveillance technology would be kept secret.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the City of London Police and the CMA, obtained by the Motherboard via a Freedom of Information Act (FoI) request, details the specifics of the relationship between the two departments and the cooperative efforts when conducting investigations. The CMA is responsible for investigating company mergers that could limit competition as well as investigating potential breaches of anti-competitive agreement bans imposed by the UK and EU.
"The CMA works in partnership with the City of London Police for the purpose of investigations where there is a need to use surveillance and/or property interference based operations," the authority told Motherboard.
Property interference comes under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and can also include planting audio surveillance equipments in a vehicle, among other things. The MoU has revealed that the City of London Police also provides the CMA with support to process evidence obtained from property interference based investigations. The CMA said that they used equipment interference powers, the UK government's technical term for hacking, which reportedly play a "critical role" in their investigations.
However, the CMA allegedly does not have the ability to conduct technical surveillance without added support. "The CoLP [City of London Police] recognises that it is currently impracticable for CMA officers, in many circumstances, to meet the same national high standards to conduct directed surveillance that a CoLP specialist team could offer," the MoU between the two agencies reads.
"All necessary steps would therefore be taken to preserve the confidentiality of deployment techniques and anything otherwise sensitive," the MoU continues, adding that the CMA would be required to consult with the Director of Intelligence at the City of London Police, especially regarding any disclosures in court of any sensitive tactics. The document also revealed that CMA officials involved in any collaborative surveillance operations with the City of London Police would be informed about activities on a "need to know basis".
The City of London Police is yet to make any comments on the matter.