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Surveillance Commissioner is appointed 22 January 2007

Retired UK prison governor Brendan O’Friel has been appointed Surveillance Commissioner for the Isle of Man by the Department of Home Affairs.

The Surveillance Commissioner is responsible for providing an effective and efficient oversight of the conduct of covert surveillance and directed surveillance by public authorities, in accordance with the new Regulation of Surveillance Etc. Act 2006.

Brendan O'FrielMr O’Friel, 65, has been appointed to the part-time post for a three year term. His duties will include:

1. scrutinising the authorisations for surveillance as soon as practicable;

2. approving authorisations in those cases where his approval is required;

3. quashing an authorisation or cancelling an authorisation where necessary;

4. ordering the destruction of records;

5. keeping under review the exercise and performance, by the persons on whom they are conferred or imposed, of the powers and duties conferred or imposed under the Act.

Mr O’Friel said:

‘I am delighted to be able to make a contribution to the Island as Surveillance Commissioner. A proper balance has to be struck by the authorities, between safeguarding the public and the human rights of individuals, and with my professional prison service background I am very aware of the need to ensure that.’

Douglas-born Mr O’Friel was educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, and gained an honours degree in law from Liverpool University before embarking on a career spanning 33 years in the Prison Service of England and Wales. He served in 13 posts, latterly as Governor of Risley, Strangeways and Featherstone prisons between 1982 and 1995. He was chairman of the Prison Governors Association for many years and his work introducing radical culture change and achieving substantial efficiency gains was recognised in outstanding inspection reports on Strangeways (Manchester) in 1989 and Risley (Warrington) in 1994.

He acquired a national media profile and was named the ‘Governors’ Governor’ in the Observer newspaper series in 1989. BBC Radio 4 rated him as one of the top 10 ‘Men of the Year’ in 1990.

Following retirement from the prison service in 1996, Mr O’Friel has continued to serve the community in the North West. He has lectured at both Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores universities plus writes obituaries for The Times newspaper. He chaired the Rail Passengers Committee for North Western 1998-2005, and served as a non-executive director of Warrington NHS Trust 1996-2002. He has been an adviser to the Irish Prison Service, a member of Cheshire Probation Board and a lay member of Employment Tribunals sitting at Manchester. He is a board member of the Security Industry Authority, the regulator of the private security industry. In addition, he chairs Travel Watch North West and is actively seeking to establish an Isle of Man branch of Travel Watch to protect passenger interests here.

Mr O’Friel’s mother was a Cowley. He left the Isle of Man aged six but visited the Island every year. He now resides in the south of the Island.

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