back to article Councils to lose some spy powers

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has opened a public consultation on how snooping laws should be used by local authorities The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or RIPA, is the set of rules which governs how secret services can snoop on UK citizens. In recent years it has also been used, in a small percentage of cases, by …


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  1. EvilGav


    What a great idea, lets enact a law and then work out how it should be used several years later.

    This shower of fuckwits need to be removed from office, preferably by a group bearing flaming torches and pitch-forks.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What's caused this sudden turnaround? Could it be that she has finally felt what it's like to be in the receiving end of invasion of privacy?

    I doubt it.

    Could it be that she has finally realised how much the electorate despises her and that she's on the verge of losing her job and will probably not even be in opposition after the next election?


    Could it be that she is worried about the gravy train stopping?


    These are positive headlines, but knowing that woman, any seeming positive actions on privacy will be more than compensated for by some other legislation that further invades our private lives.

    Being eaten by a swarm of killer ants would be too good for that bitch

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You'd almost think we had an election coming

    Oh wait, what's that, it's been almost a full four years since the last one?

    Ready to vote them out, folks?

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Sad but fascinating

    I find it utterly fascinating to see a people's rights being upheld more vigorously by an often-decried virtual entity than by the people's own elected officials. Despite all the mockery, it seems that the European Union is good for something important after all.

  5. Michael Fremlins

    fly-tipping and rogue trading...

    are not serious offences. They are a nuisance, but they are not in the same league as murder.

    Take away ALL the powers to snoop from the councils. These proposals are just a sop, and no doubt an electioneering sop at that.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Its Easy

    1) "Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has opened a public consultation on how snooping laws should be used by local authorities" - They shouldn't

    2) "As promised in December the Home Office will make changes to the code of practise which governs use of RIPA. This could limit the RIPA-empowered investigation of offences such as dog fouling and restrict the use of surveillance to offences like fly-tipping and rogue trading." - Or it could open up the number of 'offenses' for which these powers can be used and lower the grade of civil servant (theres an oxymoron if there ever was one) permitted to authorised the snooping.

  7. Ted Treen
    Black Helicopters

    Utter midden..

    Just fodder for a) The Press and b) The gullible.

    When petty officials & jobsworths are given ANY powers, have they EVER given these powers up? or have they EVER been effectively rescinded? Answer - not in a million years.

    Damian Green was obviously part of a terrorist plot to shatter the very fabric or our society, by showing Wacky to be an incompetent, venal cow with no saving grace(s) thus fomenting FUD in the general population, and now the wacky one thinks that making a cosmetic change to the verbiage, whilst in reality sweet bugger all changes, will result in us all viewing her as a latter day Joan of Arc, the heroine who restored our civil liberties & freedoms..


    IMHO Jacqui, you're still a miserable, venal, incompetent, arrogant and deeply unpleasant power-crazy loon.


    I quote "Wacky Jacqui has also promised a review of the national DNA database after the Home Office lost its final appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and was told to delete entries for innocent people."

    The court to which NuLab genuflects says to her "You're breaking the law: You're guilty: Do this"...

    Wacky "studies the ruling" - I seriously doubt she could effectively study The Beano - and "promises a review".

    If one of Wacky's personal Chekists (The Met, inter alia) grabs me on suspicion of being a Brazilian Electrician, and I survive long enough to be dragged to the Bailey, and a tame loony liberal-lefty idiot of a judge tells me to do 12 months, would I be able to toddle off home saying "I will study the ruling", and "I promise to review my activities (sometime)"?

    Even Obersturmbahnfuhrer Schmidt is subject to the law! How then does she continue to ignore it when it doesn't suit her, or is "inconvenient"?

    As (theoretically) free citizens it is our right to rebel.

    It is fast becoming our civic duty.

  8. MnM

    Too little, too late

    From the Home Office press release:


    "The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people going about their everyday lives. I don't want to see these powers being used to target people for putting their bins out on the wrong day or for dog fouling offences."

    Her definition of trivial is not my definition of trivial, but this is actually very good news. As far as Smith and her like are concerned, Pandora's box is now open. It's down to the opposition, labour backbenchers and the Lords to bring the rest of the argument into full, clear view. Damian Green on Newsnight last night, for instance, showed that even though justice was eventually served, it's unpleasant enough merely being in its gaze. I feel a corner has been turned.

    Smith has shown absolutely no capacity for balance in this debate, only beginning to concede once she'd well and truly snookered herself. She looks daft, not evil. Having been so cack-handed, there's now an abundance of examples of unwanted, unwarranted government snooping that can be pointed to. This is before many of their big ticket projects have got anywhere, and others are on the rocks. If you care, by all means join up with campaigning organisations, but I think it's a good time to write to your MP in a letter with a stamp, and articulate why this is an important issue for you.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dog fouling

    Simple - rub faces of owners in the formentioned fouling

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Ooh goody - a public review!

    Yet another chance for the electorate of the UK to actually put their points of view to the people in charge - and for Jaqui Smith to selectively edit the highlights to make the data fit the conclusions she requires.

    I especially like the first sentence in the third paragraph of Ms Smith's explanation for this latest example of political chicanery - "The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people going about their everyday lives. "

    What, like opposition MPs revealing dirty little secrets the Government would rather the voters were not aware of, even when it is the sort of thing the Government should have announced publically anyway?

    Or members of the public trying to hold peaceful protests outside the (alleged) place of work for their elected representatives?

    Or people with some pride left in our country trying to fly the flag of St George?

    And what exactly will happen once this consultation is over anyway? Does anyone really believe that, once the fanfare has died down, they won't find another way to let the abuse of the system continue? Reword it all you like, Ms Smith, you know it'll be back again soon as someone figures out just what slant they need to put on the wording to get away with it.

    And am I really the only person who finds it mildly amusing that the same week in which ZaNew Labour announce a "consultation" on RIPA is the same week that the EU come down on our glorious leaders like a ton of bricks over their mishandling of the BT/Phorm debacle?

    Mine's the one with the bolt for the stable door...

  11. John Smith Gold badge

    She's being very nice all of a sudden.

    A "Review" of RIPA access, a "Review" of who should be on the DNA database.

    And a promise of a "Review" of the database of the G.IMP and its idea of a central database.

    Note Councils *may* be *recommended* to loose some spy powers.

    Note She *lost* the last chance to argue that holding suspects (rather than convicted criminals) DNA on the DNA database. There is no higher court to appeal to. What's to review?

    Note The man from Vodaphone is still busily architecting the database.

    Note. She can ignore the results of any of these reviews, as her master ignored the petition to get rid of her.

    I recommend making a representation however. A big enough pool of well argued complaints about this level of intrusion, its cost and its effectiveness will stop 2 things. The "we had no complaints" argument and the later "No one said it was heading for epic fail" argument.

    However I doubt it will achieve its real objective. Making Labour look like they care and are not run by senior people with a very deep authoritarian streak in them. I live in a Labour marginal. Their goose is still going to be stuffed come polling day.

  12. Waggers
    Thumb Down

    What's the alternative?

    "This could limit the RIPA-empowered investigation of offences such as dog fouling and restrict the use of surveillance to offences like fly-tipping and rogue trading."

    This is bad - councils (and the police) don't have sufficient resources to manually police every street corner and potential fly tipping site. Dog fouling has serious health implications and fly tipping is a major problem in the UK. While I don't want to see CCTV replacing real police patrols etc., CCTV is the only realistic way to gather enough evidence to prosecute fly tippers etc.

  13. David Pollard

    Jacqui says ...

    "Our country has a proud tradition of individual freedom. This involves freedom from unjustified interference by the State. But it also includes freedom from interference by those who would do us harm..."

    "The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people going about their everyday lives."

    Perhaps she could explain some of the 'appropriate', 'vital', 'proportionate' and 'balanced' aspects of contemporary Britain to Klaus Matzka and his son. Like many of us they may be interested to know exactly what sort of threat is presented by a photograph of a London omnibus. As Marzka point out, "Isn't it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by terrorising tourists?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Step 1 - Announce consultation

    Step 2 - Bask in praise from the Daily Fail

    Step 3 - Read through the 568 responses

    Step 4 - Weed out the 560 incoherent/personally insulting ones

    Step 5 - Read through the remaining 8 coherent responses

    Step 6 - Remove the ones that don't agree with what you had in mind, leaving the remaining one (jointly authored by David Bunkett and Charles Clarke).

    Step 7 - Announce what you had planned anyway, claiming that you'd listened and that the plans widespread support from those who participated in the consultation.

    Step 8a - Feel pleased with yourself, go home to hubby and watch "Jackbooted lesbo sluts eavesdrop on their neighbours" (8b - charge to expenses)

    Step 9 - Lose your seat at the next election.

    Step 10 - Make a fortune advising China on how best to suppress free speech, dissent, smut and overloaded bins.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    This is Jacqui..

    We're more likely to get a Revue than a Review.

    Go home you silly cow, hubby's been seen down the video shop again.

  16. Nigel
    Thumb Down

    Smoke and mirrors.

    This is going to be a smokescreen. They want people to think that they are on our side until after the election, while changing nothing at all.

    If they wanted to fix it, it's easy for them to do so. Just amend the RIPA law in the next session of parliament. I'd suggest making it an offense to use these powers to investigate anything except a matter which, if proved, could result in someone serving jail time. Authorizing illegal surveillance should itself be punishable by jail time, and also by mandatory disqualification for life from holding public office.

  17. 3x2

    Doggy Poop

    It still avoids the question of why LA's need these powers at all. They still have no place in the investigation of terrorism or serious crime which is supposedly why they needed these powers in the first place.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    how snooping laws should be used by local authorities

    It's really quite simple. They don't need ANY of that type of authority and as other have stated, will abuse it upon every given opportunity. But, then again, EVERY level of government will abuse that type of authority, so best to repeal it in its entirety.

    @AC - 12:58 GMT - (jointly authored by David Bunkett and Charles Clarke).

    Yes, but written by someone with an actual command of the English language.

  19. Frank

    Only 9 out of 10

    WIth a little extra effort, you could have used 'Super-duper pooper.......'.

    Yes, i am monitoring your communications, but if you have nothing to hide...........

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Councils seen to lose some spy powers

    Actual spy powers lost: 0

    What does serious mean? It means whatever I want it to mean, said Wacky Jacqui through the looking glass. (And echoed by Blears, Harman, Straw, Cameron et al).

  21. Nigel

    @Doggy Poop

    You'll see from my above that I don't at all support the current situation, but here are some situations where LAs should be free to use surveillance.

    To deal with fly tippers, for example. How would you feel if drums of unknown chemicals started turning up overnight in your local parks, or if punctured bags of asbestos waste were dumped on your doorstep? Similarly, to deal with with companies or individuals dumping toxic wastes down drains or up chimneys.

    Or to deal with council tenant neighbours from hell. The sort who make life hell, and who then intimidate anyone who complains with (deniable but all-too-believable) threats and (unseen) bricks through windows or worse. Sufficient proof to prosecute or evict is hard to come by, especially if witnesses are too afraid to testify. Surveillance makes it un-necessary for them to do so.

    Or to deal with rogue traders, selling fake or unsafe products, or taking deposits for products that they have no intention of ever delivering before pretending bankrupcy or just disappearing (and setting up under a new name elsewhere to continue the offense). The roofer who sabotages your roof elsewhere while fixing the fault you employed him to. The plumber who pees in your roof tank. The unqualified gas fitter who'll blow up half a terrace if he isn't stopped first. The self-taught acupuncturist who re-uses his needles over and over again.

    All the above are true stories, if the reporters are to be believed.

    Yes, all these could be police matters, but the police have limited resources. LAs should be able to respond to the well-founded fears of their electorate, and gain the evidence to support use of their own powers, or to force a proper police response.

  22. John Smith Gold badge

    A reminder on the RIPA

    However the RIPA was sold, to the general public (Daily Heil, The Scum etc) and to MP's (as has been mentioned regarding entries in Hansard) there are *no* limits on the subjects under investigation beyond IIRC that it needs to be breaking the criminal law.

    Just a reminder.

  23. chris swain
    Black Helicopters

    @ everyone who's dying to vote them out

    Woohoo! Vote the buggers out! We'll get our chance soon...

    By voting for who exactly? Dave Matey and the blue-rinse apologists? Or whatsisname and the third party?

    Once we change the government it will all be so much better, they'll repeal the nasty laws that the other lot brought in because it'll be such a love-fest that they won't need to spy on us anymore! Isn't that right Dave? Dave, hello, Dave?

    It's the nature of government in the UK that's the problem, not which ever brand of venal, self-serving Oxbridge overlords you choose every four or five years, but hey, what do I know? Good luck to you...

    They do have to count the number of fouled papers, you know. Wouldn't it be great if there was a majority of deliberately, obviously fouled papers? A massive vote of no confidence in the whole sorry system at the next election?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "government has absolutely no interest"

    Central Govt only has superficial interest; once they make silly decisions, councils jump on them and Central cannot and will not rescind as it will dent their standing in the polls... until its too late and their shortcomings are illuminated so they get double-helping of humble pie: ridiculed in the press, have to do a u-turn, and then get hammered in the polls anyway.

    Btw, Jacqui Smith may have an 'education', and 'public service experience', but she is way out of her depth in her current position.

    10 points for AC 17th April 2009 12:59 GMT comment, 'Revue not Review' applies to the whole Westminster show.

    Thumbs down for more dumbing down

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