Surveillance powers designed to tackle terrorism have been used by local councils more than 10,000 times – for “crimes” as minor as littering.
Details disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act show that councils in England and Wales used powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to investigate offences ranging from dog fouling to taxi overcharging.
The Liberal Democrats, who obtained the details, said it represented a fresh erosion of civil liberties and warned that Ripa was becoming a “snooper’s charter”.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
The findings are based on a survey of 182 district and unitary councils in England and Wales which responded to a freedom of information request.
They showed that Ripa powers have been used on 10,288 occasions since 2004, but just 9% of those inquiries led to a successful prosecution, caution, or fixed penalty notice.