If ever there was an example the phrase ‘overkill’, the recent news on what local councils have been doing is a classic example. Powers put in place to combat terrorism are being used for crimes as trivial as dog fouling and littering.
News has emerged that councils in the North of England have used CCTV camera that were installed to battle terrorism up to 500 times to combat dog walkers not cleaning up after their dogs. One such council using these measures to tackle dog walkers is Darlington Borough Council.
The figures were obtained by the Liberal Democrats, who have claimed that the use of these spying measures for trivial crimes is an invasion of privacy and breaches civil liberties.
A spokesman for Darlington Borough Council, Keith Parkinson, stated:
Councils will use surveillance when the situation warrants it, often to prevent fly-tipping or serious cases of dog fouling or littering.
It will only be part of a package of measures that include education and warning signs.
Julia Goldsworthy from the Lib Dems says that the Ripa law was originally only allowed to be used by 9 different groups, which included the police. Now 795 different groups, including local councils, are allowed to use it.
We are now in a situation where dog fouling is considered enough to warrant surveillance by council officials.
Unless Ripa is reformed, it risks becoming a snoopers’ charter.
Surveillance powers should only be used to investigate serious crimes and must require a magistrate’s warrant.