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Rights of Accused

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 20942, tabled on 5 January 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on proposed legislative steps to protect legally privileged communications from surveillance.

Answered on

11 January 2016

Policy responsibility for this area lies with the Home Office. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has powers to intercept prisoners’ communications in specific circumstances.

Section 4(4) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) provides that the interception of communications in prisons is authorised where the conduct is in exercise of a power conferred by the Prison Rules. The Prison Rules allow for interception of a prisoner’s communications if it is necessary on certain specified grounds and proportionate to what is sought to be achieved. The Prison Rules do not permit interception of a prisoner’s communication with the prisoner’s legal adviser, unless the governor of the prison has reasonable cause to believe that the communication is being made with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose and unless authorised by the Chief Executive Officer of NOMS; the director responsible for the national operational services of NOMS; or the duty director of NOMS.

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