The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) told C+D it has never had to use its “covert surveillance” powers in fitness to practise investigations. 

A GPhC spokesperson told C+D that direct surveillance will always be considered as a last resort in an investigation. These powers can only be used when authorised by RIPA and where less intrusive means of obtaining information have proven unsuccessful.

GPhC papers revealed the GPhC “had not yet used covert surveillance in enforcement activity”.  Instead the GPhC “had been able to use less intrusive methods”. 

“The framework for using the powers was very prescriptive and required the relevant organisation to be able to demonstrate that it could not achieve the same ends through less intrusive means,”

As a public body, the GPhC can undertake “directed surveillance operations” that involves the involve the covert monitoring of people’s movements, conversations and other activities.  This is authorised by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

The General Dental Council’s use of covert surveillance has been criticised recently after it emerged that the dental regulator was found to be using the power inappropriately

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