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Understanding boundaries between covert and overt internet searching when conducting online investigations, 2 July 2024


  • Workshop examines how far investigators, analysts and intelligence staff are permitted to conduct online research and research on social media before they require an authorisation under RIPA for directed surveillance to ensure that any material obtained is legally sound


  • It will also examine how far staff can go and under what circumstances they can research without an authority.


  • This event is aimed at investigators and staff from public authorities that undertake any form of online research using the internet or social media.


  • The final session will study when an authorisation for either staff or members of the public is required to be a Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) when conducting online activity, including chat forums.


Outline of the Day

Online Research and Directed Surveillance

This session will examine the issues of directed surveillance and when an authorisation for directed surveillance should be sought. The session considers the following areas:

  • What is and what is not classed as private information?

  • What constitutes a ‘line of enquiry’?

  • How much online research can be conducted prior to a directed surveillance authorisation being obtained?

  • At what point should a directed surveillance authority be considered?

  • What guidance is available and how can it be used effectively in a practical context?

  • What constitutes ‘general observations’ of the internet?

  • What is surveillance and what is directed surveillance and how do this effect online research?


Online Activity and Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS).

This session will examine the issues of online research and interaction with others from the perspective of requiring a CHIS authorisation. The session will consider the following areas:

  • What exactly is a CHIS and how does this impact online activity?

  • When do staff need to consider a CHIS application to undertake online activity?

  • When should members of the public be considered as CHIS for their online activity?

  • The ‘approved’ levels of online research and online undercover officers (UCOL) or CHIS?

  • The use of false personas and operational security issues.


Additional Considerations and an opportunity for questions and answers and delegates to discuss practical scenarios

This session will examine some of the additional considerations that should be taken into account when conducting online research and social media research that sit outside of the RIPA issues. There will then be an opportunity for attendees to ask any questions that they may have or raise any practical scenarios for clarification or advice.


Our expert trainer

The day will be led by expert trainer and Adrian Ramdat, a former investigator who spent over 26 years working operationally at a local, regional, national and international level in various covert roles including as a covert operative, manager and head of a Covert Management Operations Unit.  He was also previously seconded to the National Policing Improvement Agency where he held the portfolio for Covert Law Enforcement.


Cost: £205 + VAT (GBP) per delegate (LEA and Government Agency rate).  £255 + VAT (Industry rate). 

Group bookings: We offer various discounts for group bookings depending on numbers, please contact us for details.


Booking: Please send the delegates name(s), email address(es) and purchase order (made out to The Investigator) to or telephone +44(0)844 660 8707 for further information. 

Payment can be made by Debit/credit card. The meeting link will be sent out 7 days before the event.

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