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Councils 'snooping' on public

A new report shows local authorities have been using anti-terror surveillance powers to investigate minor offences like dog fouling and families claiming to be in school catchment areas.

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Abuse of terror laws by councils only 'tip of the iceberg'

The civil liberties group Big Brother Watch says its report on the use of terror laws by local authorities was only the "tip of the iceberg". A number of public bodies, including the Royal Mail and Ofsted, refused to give details of activities under the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act.

"For public bodies, funded by and working for the taxpayer, to be using RIPA yet so vociferously trying to avoid accountability is simply unacceptable. It is important that the public can have faith that surveillance powers are being used only in those situations where serious crimes are taking place and when there are no less intrusive, alternative routes of investigation."

– Communities Secretary Eric Pickles MP

Big Brother Watch is now calling for a thorough review of RIPA powers. Legislation in May meant councils now have to apply to magistrates to use RIPA. The civil liberties group says this condition should be applied to all public bodies intending to use the same powers.

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