Law enforcement agencies are being given wider powers to intercept communications under a bill introduced to Parliament yesterday.

The 196-page Search and Surveillance Bill deals with new technology.

The main provisions are:

* It widens the range of offences for which communications can be intercepted and when vehicle and people tracking can be used.

* Regulates visual surveillance by requiring a warrant where devices are to be used to observe activities in private buildings.

* Introduces a policy-only examination order power, where people believed to have information about offending can be made to answer questions.

* Allows search scenes to be secured and people to be detained while searches are carried out, puts obligations on those in charge of computers and networks to help in computer searches, and allows police to stop and search vehicles.

* Balances the needs of agencies with the rights of people being searched.

The changes are in line with Law Commission recommendations.