The Council Spies

More than 1,000 covert surveillance operations are being launched every month to investigate petty offences such as dog fouling, under-age smoking and breaches of planning regulations.

No, no,. these are very special powers, only to be used in times of grave crisis:

When Ripa was passed in 2000, only nine organisations, such as the police and security services, were allowed to use it, but that number has risen to 792, including 474 councils.

In 2006, more than 1,000 applications per day were being made to use Ripa powers. The Act allows councils to authorise surveillance, obtain phone records and details of email traffic from personal computers (though not their contents) and obtain details of websites individuals are logging on to.

No, really, they are very special powers only to be used in times of grave crisis.

Really.

5 thoughts on “The Council Spies”

  1. “More than 1,000 covert surveillance operations are being launched every month …”

    Oh, well – at least the manufacturers of bugs, directional mikes, covert cameras and microdot tracking devices are cleaning up…!

    Well, maybe not the last one. Yet.

    “breaches of planning regulations”

    Not sure why you’d need covert surveillance for this? Can the council just send Johnnie-no-stars to drive by the house in broad daylight on his way to pick up the office milk?

  2. Kit // Apr 12, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Any left-wingers out there want to try to justify this?

    I am left-wing, Tony Benn(ish) left-wing to a large degree, and there is no way to justify this.

    If there is a way to break down the councils who are using these powers it would be good to see. As I said in my reply to the earlier post of Tim’s – these councils should be brought before the courts for using these powers – those that allow them to be used should be in court No 2 justifying their actions.

  3. “those that allow them to be used should be in court No 2 justifying their actions.”

    I can’t see how making them play tennis helps at all.

  4. This is another one of those hyperbolic public panic type media stories. Just because RIPA applies to anti-terrorism enquiries doesn’t mean that it is anti-terrorism legislation.

    Prior to RIPA if the police wanted to watch your house and look through your window they didn’t need any authority to do so, so long as they did so from a public place or from a private place with the owners permission. With the advent of the Human Rights Act, with its right to Family Life, looking in windows by public bodies without necessity, legality, proportionality and legitimate aim, became a civil offence, and potentially a criminal offence. Therefore the Government had to bring in legislation to place looking in peoples windows on a legal basis, hence RIPA.

    Local Authorities are Public Agencies, and therefore they must comply with Human Rights Legislation. Where they wish to investigate alleged frauds against the public purse, e.g. people claiming housing benefits to which they aren’t entitled, etc. they must comply with HRA, and therefore must be subject to RIPA, which provides the legal basis upon which all investigations that have a potential for so-called collateral intrusion into private life.

    If they weren’t subject to RIPA they’d still be looking in your windows, but wouldn’t have to prove to a third party that their actions were necessary, proportionate, had a legitimate aim. But their actions would be unlawful if they hadn’t complied with RIPA, including registration that they were conducting enquiries.

    Just press bollocks.

    Local Authority complies with Act of Parliament, shock!

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