Snoop-happy councils warned off RIPA abuse
'Or they'll take our toys away'
The head of the Local Government Association (LGA) has today warned every council in England to restrict how their investigators use new surveillance powers, or risk losing public support.
Sir Simon Milton's letter follows a recent rash of news stories exposing how councils nationwide have been using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to monitor dog fouling and littering. He urged councils to review how they authorise surveillance to ensure that only more serious transgressions such as fly tipping and benefit fraud are tackled by such means.
Milton wrote: "Whilst it is a matter for each council to determine for its area, our advice is that, save in the most unusual and extreme of circumstances, it is inappropriate to use these powers for trivial matters." He also noted that RIPA calls for spying powers to be used only when "necessary and proportionate to prevent or detect a criminal offence".
The sweeping RIPA surveillance laws were controversially brought in as a necessary weapon to fight terrorism.
Councils, along with many other arms of government, use it to obtain phone records and other personal information. While his letter argued that councils need to use the act in serious circumstances, Milton wrote the overall effect of the abuses had "been quite damaging" to the reputation of local government.
The LGA has no binding powers over how councils behave, but its call for restraint was backed by all three Westminster party leaders. The organisation is participating in an ongoing effort to clarify the details of RIPA with central government, police chiefs and Chief Surveillance Commissioners.
Milton's letter reveals officials are wary that backing for surveillance could evaporate. He appealed to councils for ideas on "how as a sector we might ensure that councils' use of these new powers has general public support". ®
You're only jealous.
Would offenders please refrain from bagging their dog shit and then hanging it from trees or chucking it at the path side(Why do they do this?). It takes light years to break down, and it confuses my dog!
It's all a load of poo
I think this country has much more to worry about than who's dogs shite where and what school little Johnny goes too. Fact is, the cameras are not ding what they are supposed to do and thats deter / detect real crime. The camera opposite my house is currently pointing at someones window and has been for the last 3 days. Are the operators perving? What happened to the privacy zones these cameras should be programmed with (ie. no snooping into peoples windows)
Its been proven so far that our camera state has only detected 3% of crime, compare this to the costs of running such systems, they should be scrapped. Cameras run by local authorities is just another excuse to spy on us normal everyday citizens whilst in reality, they don't prevent and detect real crime. I'm fed up with being snooped apon when I'm walking, shopping, driving, having a meal out, having a pint out and probably whilst I'm having a dump in a public toilet somewhere. When has any of these cameras contributed to busting a terrorist or drugs cartel? Never.Congratulations for all the Dog Shit detection! Horrah for watching little johnny go to school, What a feat which costs us millions of pounds to have these jobs worth, perving camera operators film our every movement.
What a weak nation this pathetic island has become!