Intelligence Services Commissioner

The Intelligence Services Commissioner is a post provided for by RIPA to oversee the use of RIPA powers. The Commissioner should hold or have held high judicial office, and is appointed by the Prime Minister. The position is part-time, with a part-time secretary. To conduct the oversight function, the Commissioner has the power to obtain “documents and information as he may require” from officials, and has an annual reporting obligation to the Prime Minister. The most recent report, however, was released in 2013. [1] This report detailed how, after allegations about GCHQ‘s unlawful activities, the Commissioner “was able to visit GCHQ immediately and confront them.” The Commissioner went on to conclude that “The results of this questioning and briefing allowed me to conclude that GCHQ were not circumventing the law in the UK”.

A major recommendation of the Anderson Review is to merge the existing functions of the ISC with the other commissioners to form the Independent Surveillance and Intelligence Commission.

[1] Accessible at

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