Making and using visual and audio recordings of patients (summary)

Making recordings covertly


Covert recordings should be undertaken only where there is no other way of obtaining information which is necessary to investigate or prosecute a serious crime, or to protect someone from serious harm. This might arise in cases where there are grounds to suspect that a child is being harmed by a parent or carer. Before any covert recording can be carried out, authorisation must be sought from a relevant body in accordance with the law.24  If you consider making covert recordings, you must discuss this with colleagues, your employing or contracting body, and relevant agencies, except where this would undermine the purpose of the recording, in which case you should seek independent advice. You must follow national or local guidance.25  In most circumstances, covert recordings should be carried out by the police.


The scheme for authorisations is set out in ss.28-30 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and ss.5-8 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000.


Safeguarding children in whom illness is fabricated or induced (Department for Children, Schools and Families guidance revised March 2008).

Covert Surveillance: Code of Practice (Scottish Government, 2003). 

Safeguarding Children in whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced (Welsh Assembly Government, 2008).


Covert recordings will fall within the scope of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 or the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000, where it is used by a public body, such as an NHS body or those contracted to, or employed by, an NHS body. If circumstances arise where you might be involved in covert recordings you must ensure that you comply with the requirements of the relevant Act.