Sunday, Sept 14, 2008
Anti-terror powers were used to spy on a member of the public after his neighbour complained about his noisy wardrobe doors and loud footsteps, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
Fife Council was given permission to plant recording equipment in the neighbour’s flat in response to concern that his or her human rights were being infringed because of the noise. The council admitted in another investigation that such equipment could lead to “collateral intrusion”, in which conversations were recorded, but insisted that all material was destroyed.
Michael Parker, a spokesman for NO2ID, a civil liberties campaign group, said councils should adopt less intrusive ways of tackling problems.
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He said: “No one wants to stand in the way of the detection of crime but with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act the pendulum has swung too far. Some of these surveillance operations are quite costly and counterproductive.
“They are costing more than some of the problems they are designed to tackle.
Mr Parker went on: “There is a danger that council staff will begin to behave like police officers. They will come to regard themselves as super-sleuths and everyone will be under suspicion.”
The Fife case has come to light as more councils admit to using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to tackle apparently minor misdemeanours such as littering and smoking in public places.
This article was posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 4:09 am