A complex system
Currently, the law commission said investigatory bodies risked drafting errors and challenges when applying for a warrant through the police.
There have been more than 50 reported judicial reviews relating to the issue of a search warrant or the conduct of a search since 2010, with millions of pounds spent by public bodies in damages and legal fees, the commission said.
For these reasons, it is proposing a streamlined, modernised way in which investigators may obtain a search warrant, backed by improved judicial scrutiny and statutory safeguards.
It is also proposing that agencies with a duty to investigate offences, but which cannot currently apply for a search warrant, be given the power to do so.
“This would allow the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), for example, which currently has to seek the assistance of the police, to apply for a search warrant of its own volition,” said corporate crime expert Olga Tocewicz of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
“Judicial oversight will of course still be required; however, it does bolster the investigative toolbox available to the SFO,” she said.
The consultation closes on 5 September 2018.