London Telegraph 
Monday, Dec 01, 2008
A council used controversial anti-terror powers to spy on a nursery suspected of selling pot plants unlawfully, it has emerged.
Another local authority sent undercover operatives to a market to check that birds were not being sold to members of the public.
The latest examples come as the Tories unveil plans to ban town halls from using surveillance laws to snoop on the public for petty offences.
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In a new policy document, the Conservatives pledge to ban such activities save for the most serious crimes – that which would warrant a jail term – to end Labour’s “snooper state”.
Councils will also have to obtain a magistrate’s approval before any surveillance while elected councillors would be made directly responsible for any authorisation of the powers by officials.
The Government recently said councils would be told to stop spying on minor offences such as dog fouling and so-called “bin crimes” amid growing anger among the public.
But Tories claim “behind the spin” ministers are still looking to extend their use.