Page last updated at 19:26 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Council snooping: Your comments

Local authorities in England and Wales have used controversial spying laws 10,000 times in the past five years, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) was designed to fight serious crime.

However, officials are said to have been using it to spy on suspected dog fouling, littering and other minor offences.

Readers have contacted the BBC News website to share their comments and experiences. Here is a selection of your e-mails.

Read the main story


Your comments

This is just another example of how some councils misuse their powers. It is an erosion of civil liberties. At a time when there are far more important reasons for the use of surveillance techniques this trivialises the importance of the original legislation intended to protect the lives of UK citizens and legitimate visitors to our country. Sally Angell, Plymouth

These figures are a disgrace, and there is clearly a case for a radical reform of the legislation. We cannot permit such intrusion by minor public servants to continue.

In my view, no-one other than the Chief Executive of a council should be authorising surveillance, and a monthly report of everything authorised should be submitted to the local Bench.
H. Elliott, Largs, Ayrshire

You cannot afford to have a PC at each corner of the street so I do not have any problem with using existing technology to supplement all enforcement actions. I do not do anything that I would be ashamed of so I have no problem being surveilled in public. They have not taken away any of my freedoms, even the freedom to break the law if I so choose.
Charles Robertson, Ashley, Suffolk

Dog fouling and littering are unnecessary and unpleasant offences, however "minor". If catching the inconsiderate people responsible is a by-product of allowing our councils such powers then I can't see a problem.
Mark, Warwick

This is not only immoral, it is a waste of money
Nick, Rugby

The idea of anyone other than senior police officers or magistrates/judges being allowed to authorise covert surveillance has no place in a democratic society. As to it's use to monitor minor offences this is not only immoral it is a waste of money. If this was really to do with terrorism I would never have been implemented the way it has.
Nick, Rugby

The latest proposals to build spying into everyday life, by way of monitoring email, telephone calls, even social networking sites and retaining the information in a massive (insecure) database should be discarded. The introduction of ID cards, one step away from the tattoos used by the Nazis to identify Jewish people, the very item used in South Africa to impose Apartheid is an extremely dangerous step in civil liberties.
Stephen Browne, Bedford, Bedfordshire

I thought the police were the government body for investigating possible crimes. If the council suspect criminal activity they should pass details to the police for their action. It is NOT the council's job to investigate or monitor citizens.

At the same time if the police want to monitor any citizen or their activities then they should need a court warrant.
Rob, Hereford

I do not see what the problem is with the use of new technologies, so long as the data is processed in a secure manner and used in the best interests of the public. After all no one likes fly tipping on their doorstep or stepping in dog poo.
Adrian Sime, Wigan

I see no problem with this
Richard Leadbetter, Brighton

All of this surveillance is occurring in public places, if the councils were putting cameras in your home, then yes, it is a breach of our rights. But they are filming you in a public place. I see no problem with this. Surely it will lead to more criminals (albeit minor ones) being brought to justice.
Richard Leadbetter, Brighton

At a time when my real income as a pensioner is REDUCING and the RPI (all Prices) is practically ZERO - my local council have the temerity to raise my council tax by 3.9% this year! If they are spending my money on such intrusion then I, for one, believe that they have gone too far.
Richard Grimes, Newbury

I, for one, am highly delighted if council surveillance can detect the fly tippers, dog foulers, yobs and hooligans that mess up our countryside and make life miserable for thousands of decent people with their anti-social behaviour.

It is these so called "minor offences" that cause the greatest area of complaint and distress and anxiety to the majority of residents in most areas.

They are NOT minor when they can completely ruin your life.
Mary Knott, Margate, Kent

I don't think councils should have any surveillance powers at all. If they have evidence that a crime has been or is being committed they should inform the police.

We are fast becoming a totalitarian state, where the busy bodies who are meant to be public servants stick their unwelcome noses into every aspect of our lives.
Neil Duffy, Devizes



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