Tuesday, July 28, 1998 Published at 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Technological 'threat to civil rights'
Personal privacy is threatened say Justice
The law on phone-tapping by the police and security services fails to take account of new means of communications such as e-mail, a civil rights group has warned.
A report by Justice concludes that criminal intelligence work poses a threat to people's privacy and could break European law.
These rights are going to be more important when the convention becomes enforceable in the United Kingdom courts, probably in the year 2000
MI5 has the legal power to bug and burgle but the security service is not subject to as many restrictions as the police, with which it is increasingly working to combat crime.
At present, various acts, including the Interception of Communications Act 1985 and the Police Act 1997, relate to this area.
Justice's director of legal policy, Madeleine Colvin, said: "This is not simply a knee-jerk civil liberties response.
"We recognise that covert policing is a necessary part of today's police methods.
Other key areas of police surveillance of concern to Justice are house bugging, phone tapping and the use of video recordings from sources such as CCTV cameras.
The group says Britain needed to ensure its laws met the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Justice says police records are held on a far more people than just convicted criminals.
It claims Greater Manchester Police possesses 10 million records stored in 50 separate databases.
In Hampshire, which has a population of about two million, 80,000 people are recorded in police files, Justice says.