GPhC clarifies investigative powers in response to media reports

The General Pharmaceutical Council issued the following statement to clarify its investigative powers in response to recent media reports.

The GPhC does not currently have the legal powers to authorise the use of directed surveillance or covert human intelligence sources.

We want to make sure that we have all the tools we need to carry out a thorough and proactive investigation into serious concerns so that we can protect patients. That is why, following a recommendation by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners in 2013, we sought new legal powers to use directed surveillance (DS) and covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) during investigations into serious concerns about registered pharmacies or pharmacy professionals.

Using DS and/or CHIS would require a change in legislation to enable these powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). We have been working with the Department of Health and the Home Office to bring forward such changes in legislation. We hope to be given the powers to use directed surveillance in the future but we are currently not seeking powers to use covert human intelligence sources.