Unit 2.3: Vehicle Trackers and the Law

Trackers and the Law



  • Trespass: It may be a civil trespass to deploy a tracker onto a car not belonging to your client or to yourself. the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Sir Christopher Rose stated “putting an arm into a wheel arch or under the frame of a vehicle is straining the concept of trespass“.
  • However to enter the private land of anyone in order to deploy a tracker is clearly a trespass. Therefore a tracker should be deployed on a vehicle in the public domain such as a supermarket car park or anywhere not on private property.
  • Harassment & Stalking: Surveillance in all of its forms can sometimes be misinterpreted by the public as stalking. There is no legal definition of ‘stalking’. Neither is there specific legislation to address this behaviour. Rather, it is a term used to describe a particular kind of harassment. Generally, it is used to describe a long-term pattern of persistent and repeated contact with, or attempts to contact, a particular victim.
  • Property Interference: This refers to RIPA or Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The Home Office published a document entitled “Covert Surveillance and Property Interference,

“property interference” shall be taken to include entry on, or interference with, property or with wireless telegraphy.

The chapter gives an example;

Example: The use of a surveillance device for providing information about the location of a vehicle may involve some physical interference with that vehicle as well as subsequent directed surveillance activity. Such an operation could be authorised by a combined authorisation for property interference (under Part III of the 1997 Act) and, where appropriate, directed surveillance (under the 2000 Act). In this case, the necessity and proportionality of the property interference element of the authorisation would need to be considered by the appropriate authorising officer separately to the necessity and proportionality of obtaining private information by means of the directed surveillance.

This can be interpreted to mean that placing a tracker on a vehicle without the consent of the owner is illegal unless you obtain authorisation from the Surveillance Commissionaire under the RIPA 2000 laws.  Since as private investigators we cannot obtain such authorisations, it is therefore illegal property interference.

Another interpretation is that it is illegal to do so IF you are acting under the instruction of a public authority and you do not obtain authorisation. The legislation makes no mention of property interference for anyone else.  ERGO this does not apply to you!

The second interpretation is the valid one.  Our head of legal department is in agreement that there is no legislation in place that deals with the deployment of trackers in a criminal sense except RIPA 2000 and that RIPA 2000 ONLY applies to those agencies and persons mentioned in it.


It is possible that the civil offence of trespass is committed if the vehicle is on private property when the tracker is deployed.

It is also possible that if the subject of enquiry becomes aware of the tracker, this may amount to harassment under the Prevention of Harassment Act 1997 if they pursue a course of conduct

(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.”

It is the opinion of Spearhead Compliance Training and also our legal consultants that the use of GPS Trackers is not illegal and that no criminal offences are committed in the deployment of such resources