HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Grim RIPA

The Grim RIPA

It would appear that HMRC have jumped on the bandwagon of our "beloved" and "respected" local councils, they have started to use the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to spy on suspected tax evaders.

RIPA was, in theory, passed to allow counter terrorism agencies to monitor terrorist suspects and serious criminal activity. However, local councils have been using it for all manner of non terrorist activity (eg monitoring suspect dog fouling owners).

HMRC have now got in on the act and, according to a Parliamentary answer, have been granted the right to use RIPA 5,492 times in 2009.

According to the Telegraph, this is an 80% increase in four years.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. They bully their staff, close buildings, fail to collect Revenue, lose millions of peoples personal details, and then resort to RIPA.
    The C.I.A. and Stasi come to mind.

  2. This is not new. RIPA did not grant any new powers, it merely regularised the use of long standing techniques in order to bring them in line with the HRA. As per usual, the stats are used highly selectively. Customs and Excise always used RIPA and the associated techniques, particularly on drugs jobs and MTIC fraud. The IR barely used them because they did comparatively little criminal work. There's no conspiracy, there are no jackboots, it's just good old fashioned criminal investigation. Believe me, HMRC would love to see the back of us customs officers and our nasty habits.

  3. Anon is very accurate , these powers are nothing new .
    On how they treat their staff - the Staff survey is due to be published, HMRC management are trying to bury it as it is the worst in Whitehall.

    Believe me the internal IT is just as bad as the external facing Internet portals- Millions wasted on poor IT

  4. When is the next survey to be published?

  5. RIPA first came into use by HMCE in 1999. The Act came into power in 2000. The reason for the early take-on was to get HMCE's use of intrusive surveillance in line before the act coming into force. RIPA protects citizens far more than the old "on-the-nod-of-the-boss" form of surveillance permissions. RIPA has been used on Excise / VAT and drugs work since its inception. RIPA part one covers the use of interception of communications and part two the use of surveillance, informants etc. Surveillance applications will only succeed if the crime suspected is a serious crime (defined by law as a crime which would earn a first offender 3 years or more inside on conviction). Therefore RIPA should only be used in such cases (and is very carefully scrutinised by a series of checks up to the Surveillance Commissioners).
    As the previouis sensible Anonymous said, the Revenue did almost no surveillance (not trained for it) whereas Customs did a lot. There is no conspiracy, simply a continuation of what was done before, except that the powers have been extended into direct tax investigation. The "serious crime" rule still applies however.
    As a Customs officer, I agree that most of the exIR seem to want to go back to the cosy days of office based investigation and would love to get rid of us, but where would they go for their good news stories, then? The only difference between drug traffickers and cigarette traffickers is the volume of a load worth a million quid (a container of fags). The criminals are equally ruthless, violent and active as their narco counterparts. Often they are the same people. Until SOCA take over all serious crime investigation, we still need the ability to do our jobs.