Saturday, 12 July 2008

Council uses terrorist snooping powers on 900 members of the public

12th July 2008

Walsall Council has been using it's powers to snoop on members of the public

Walsall Council has been using it's powers to snoop on members of the public

A council has carried out more than 900 surveillance operations on staff and members of the public using a law introduced to fight terrorism.

One employee off work with a back injury was allegedly accused of lifting furniture out of a van and taken to a disciplinary hearing.

he allegation was dropped after it emerged snoopers had mistaken a delivery man for him. The same individual is understood to have been monitored when he went swimming to aid his recovery.

Walsall Council said the vast majority of its 916 surveillance operations carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 involved alleged benefit fraudsters, anti-social behaviour or trading standards infringements.

But Councillor Albert Griffiths, the cabinet member for finance and personnel, admitted there had been at least five instances where employees suspectedof 'pulling a sickie' had been spied on.

The employee accused of unloading furniture declined to comment because he still works for the council, despite being off sick since 2005 with a lower-back problem.

A Walsall town hall spokesman said: 'The council occasionally receives allegations of inappropriate employee behaviour among its 13,500-strong workforce.

'The council will fully investigate the allegations in accordance with RIPA requirements and is unable to comment on individual cases.'

There has been an outcry over the way local authorities have been using investigatory powers under RIPA - which was intended for use 'in the interests of national security'.

A family in Poole, Dorset, was put under surveillance for three weeks over suspicions that they were living outside the catchment area of their child's school.

No comments: