Council one of most active users of covert surveillance in the UK
New research conducted by Big Brother Watch - a non-partisan grassroots campaign - has reveals that Wandsworth Council is one of the most intensive users of legislation that allows local authorities to snoop on residents.
Councils in Great Britain have authorised over 8,500 RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) operations in the past two years. That's an average of over eleven surveillance operations every day in this country over the period.
The research by Big Brother Watch names Newcastle upon Tyne as the worst local authority in the country for the use of its powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, having spied on its residents 231 times over the past two years. Wandsworth was 12th in the list with 120 uses of the legislation.
The Top 15
A spokes-person for Wandsworth Council has told PutneySW15.com:
"Of the 120 cases where we have carried out surveillance (i.e. obtaining video evidence) whilst working within the rules, guidelines and restrictions enshrined in the RIPA legislation
In blue badge fraud cases where video evidence is vital, since September 2007, 315 drivers have been prosecuted for a total of 1,267 criminal offences including theft, forgery, fraud and deception. As a result, £400,000 has been returned to the public purse in fines and other costs."
The Council deny ever using the legislation to check if people have given false addresses to gain school places or to check which kind of rubbish they are putting in their dustbins."
Their spokesperson said, "We make no apology for using all the powers that Parliament has given us to try and catch people who rip off consumers and taxpayers."
June 16, 2010