Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 12:58 UK

Spy row council trials head cams

Council worker wearing head cam
Staff at the recycling centre are clearly marked as wearing a recording device

A council which used powers to spy on people, including a family suspected of lying about where they lived, is using cameras to monitor a recycling centre.

Borough of Poole said staff are wearing head cams in a one-month trial at the Nuffield Household Waste and Recycling Centre after recent cases of abuse.

But civil liberty group NO2ID said the move was "absurd" and called for extra security guards to combat the problem.

The council said the cameras were needed to gather evidence.

Councillor Don Collier said: "Abusive and aggressive behaviour towards members of staff is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Snooped on

"If the head cams prove to be a successful deterrent it will result in permanent use of the equipment."

One incident saw an irate member of the public drive their car at a member of staff, the council said.

No one was injured but the motorist was banned from the site.

But Michael Parker, NO2ID spokesman, said: "It seems particularly absurd for a council to scare off its local taxpayers from using a service that it wants them to make better use of.

"If there genuinely is a problem with security then the addition of security guards or such like seems a better solution."

Staff at the recycling centre are clearly marked as wearing a recording device.

The head cams record continuously but the memory is wiped clean at 30-second intervals unless the wearer activates a function to store the previous 30 seconds.

It is not the first time Poole council has come under fire for its surveillance tactics.

Jenny Paton and her partner Tim Joyce were snooped on for nearly three weeks after they were wrongly suspected they had lied about living in the catchment area for Lilliput First School.

The council also made similar checks on two other families in the last year and admitted to using powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) on 17 separate occasions since 2005.


SEE ALSO
Council admits spying on family
10 Apr 08 |  Dorset
Who watches the watchers?
06 Feb 08 |  UK Politics
Do you know what they know about you?
23 Nov 07 |  Technology

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