back to article Councils launch eight spying ops on Brits A DAY using RIPA

Blighty's councils are conducting an average of eight covert surveillance operations A DAY using laws intended to regulate serious crime investigations. Kent County Council is the worst offender, clocking up 315 operations in three years, according to a survey of spying requests made under the Regulation of Investigatory …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Hang on a sec

    The BBC? Really??

    1. ReggiePerrin

      Re: Hang on a sec

      I'd expect its probably something to do with the licence fee?

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: Hang on a sec

        It is indeed to do with checking people are paying their licence fees. We're looking into it.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hang on a sec

        > I'd expect its probably something to do with the licence fee?

        I fucking hope not; that's handled by Capita.

    2. dotdavid

      Re: Hang on a sec

      Probably through their Telly Tax TV Licencing arm.

  2. Gordon Pryra

    More cuts needed

    They can act in seconds to get a "red van" parked in the road to catch Mrs Miggins poodle pooping. But they cant pick up my rubbish faster than once every 2 weeks?

    Sack the lot of them, also the buggers who asked for 8 copy's of a proof of changed address snail mailed rather than a single copy emailed/faxed/telexed (I presume they still have 6 people employed to run the telex machine)

    (yes I know, Daily Mail reader response, but quite appropriate I feel)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rubbish

      Your rubbish does not need collecting more frequently than once every two weeks.

      Also, please hand in your apostrophe license and remove that key from your keyboard.

      1. Vic

        Re: Rubbish

        > Your rubbish does not need collecting more frequently than once every two weeks

        That's what my council said.

        But since the move to fortnightly collection, we've had several rat infestations[1]. We didn't get them under weekly collection.

        There's a connection there somewhere. I can't quite put my finger on it...


        [1] I live in a Victorian terrace. When the rats get in, *everyone's* got them :-(

  3. Magister


    What surprises me is that anyone is surprised by this - after all, it's not like it hasn't been highlighted over and again ad nauseam.

    All public bodies or civil servants WILL abuse their powers; this is a fact along the lines of 'Sex is more fun than logic -- one cannot prove this, but it "is" in the same sense that Mount Everest "is", or that Alma Cogan "isn't".' (John Cleese)

  4. Code Monkey

    That's ok because the Tories promised us an end to New Labour's Big Brother ways. So we can trust them to put a stop to all this, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think you can blame local council actions on central government... but sure, why not?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Because they said they were putting a stop to this misuse of it specifically? Or I might have dreamt it.

        I pretty-much live my life these days assuming I'm under surveillance. Not that I'm breaking any laws or trying to put one over on anyone, I just believe in erring on the side of caution, which I think makes me an early example of what is wrong with the kind of surveillance we endure in the UK.

      2. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Oh yes you can

        Central government (you remember - the bit with legislative control - yup that one) can rein in local government. Think lad, think.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @I don't think you can blame local council actions on central government...

        sorry? which institution passed the legal instrument local councils are using? and has the power to revise it? do you know how things work in GB?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      The sarcasm is strong in this one.

      Governments come and governments go but the bureaucracy goes on for ever as Bismark observed

      Or rather the group in the Home Office that persists in believing this is a good idea.

  5. Senior Ugli
    IT Angle

    The KCC are such an out of touch council. Once again you have the decision makers there who are barely able to use the internet and have probably just heard of kazaa

    Whats the point in all this spying and surveillance if when it reaches court the offender gets a soft time or let off.

    Waste of money, again.

    1. Chris Parsons

      Sadly, most local governments seem to fall into a similar category. Elect local officials, US-style, for short terms only. They are currently useless scum.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This shows why the allegations that Anton Vickerman made about RIPA abuses by FACT could be very true.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: more cuts

    Surely we need fewer of the cuts, but as you said - daily mail response.

    What we do need, more productively but it's never going to happen, is a mechanism to hold to account the fools that passed the legislation: not just a vote every few years, but real criminal sanctions with time served by those who vote to restrict liberty or increase surveillance powers. The bureaucrats that draft legislation should be named at the time of drafting and if it involves a curtailment of liberties or an extension of intrusion, subject to appropriate sanctions. The politicians / spads in the relevant department should be banned from public service for life then sent on an all-expenses paid work experience posting to help build a new airport at St Helena. Preferably as a part of the foundations.

    Never going to happen: too many arrogant people making too much money for mis-serving the people whilst calling themselves "public servants" or "people's representatives".

  8. FanMan
    Thumb Up

    Go to it!

    Dog fouling is heinous. I'm all in favour of using snoop tech to nab the poopers.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Go to it!

      Probably overkill when the council get a predator drone

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Go to it!

        "Probably overkill when the council get a predator drone"

        OK, but who will clear the remnants of dog+owner from the pavement?

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Go to it!

          > OK, but who will clear the remnants of dog+owner from the pavement?

          Someone will be along in a couple of weeks when the bins are collected.

  9. LinkOfHyrule

    Bloody nora!

    I just went out, and across the street from the pet shop were a load of Trading Standards Puppy Swat team officers about to do an armed raid!

    As I neared the said pet shop, I heard the commanding officer on his radio say "okay guv, were going in, over" and with that - the whole team, all 20 or 30 of them, with riot shields, semi automatic weapons, and small dog cages stormed the tiny animal filled shop unit!

    As the officer leading the charge smashed the door down using a battering ram, he shouted through his megaphone "By the power invested in me by RIPA, I am conducting a test purchase of a small puppy on behalf of your local Trading Standards department!". The shop then quickly became filled with thick clouds of tear gas that, along with the terrifying screams and barks of human shop staff and live canine shop produce, spewed out into the midday street!

    I thought it was slightly heavy handed to be honest!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bloody nora!

      What would really happen is that they would get a record of all the guys emails, web browsing and Netflix downloads to check how many times he had watched "Showgirls" so that they would have some dirt to leak to the press in case he complained.

      Then they would storm the RSPCA office next door because the address was hard to read on the photocopy of the fax of the carbon copy of the form

  10. A J Stiles


    There aren't actually very many terrorists around. There are, however, a larger minority -- still a minority, but more of them than terrorists -- of selfish, antisocial people creating bother for everyone else.

    When someone fly-tips rubbish, it creates a cost for the council, who have to clear it away. When someone lets their dog foul the pavements, it has a non-zero cost for anyone who just treads in it, and it will cost the NHS money if somebody gets sick from it. When someone puts their recyclables in the landfill bin, it costs the council twice over: they don't get the money for it from the recycling merchant, and they even have to pay to bury it. (And that's before stopping to consider what happens if a whole lorryload gets contaminated).

    If people who make other people's lives a nuisance are being brought to justice, I'm really not sure I have a problem with this.

    1. Just Thinking

      Re: Meh

      Depends on your definition of fly tipping. According to our council, if you arrive at the recycle bins and they are completely full, then piling a few bottles neatly by the side of the bin is fly tipping. And it justifies mounting a surveillance camera to procecute the offenders.

      Any sane person would say great, recycling is going even better than expected, lets empty the bins a bit more often.

      The fact that the council even consider prosecuting innocent residents for the council's failings is exactly why they shouldn't have such powers.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Meh

        I tried fly tipping, but the damn insect wouldn't sit still long enough..

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Meh

        "The fact that the council even consider prosecuting innocent residents for the council's failings is exactly why they shouldn't have such powers."


        To a bureaucracy *no one* is innocent. It's *their* fault for failing to drop off their rubbish when the bins are empty.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Meh

      The councils have enough powers to do this already, the abuse of the privilege we granted the state to breach our rights (because that's what it is) should be jealously guarded, If I allow my neighbour to use my grass mower it still doesn't amount to permission to enter my premises and borrow anything he feels like.

      This is why governments *love* terrorism: unquestioned access to tax money (QED TSA in the US), breaking rules at leisure (QED RIPA et al), and all abuse gently covered with the cloak of "national security".

      It sometimes makes you think if the 9/11 conspiracy nuts were - from the perspective of "who benefits" it doesn't seem such a wild idea after all..

    3. Corinne

      Re: Meh

      Part of the problem though is that many of these bothers are caused by the council's own policies. Some people fly-tip because of the problem of getting rid of rubbish e.g. charges for using the town dump, or the recently proposed idea that people will be charged by the amount of rubbish they have collected. People also fly tip because of the sheer hassle of trying to correctly separate their rubbish into the 8 different recycling bins they have to use - MUCH easier to dump it somewhere rather than face hundreds of pounds in fines because they didn't push all the windows out of envelopes so they could go in a different bin, or mistakenly put a cleanish bit of kitchen roll in with the non-recyclable bin.

      The main problem I have with this though is it's the thin end of the wedge - soon everything we do will be under surveillance "just in case", and I don't particularly want local council workers reading my personal emails or monitoring my text messages and sniggering over any relationships I may have. But clearly you are a believer in "Big Brother" society, and that the end justifies the means

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      none of your examples compares to the impact of 7/7.

      it's a common mistake to think everyone investigated is guilty.

      it's a common mistake to think the level of investigation necessary to investigate suspected terrorism is appropriate and necessary to investigate trivial (though irritating) wrongdoing.

      there's only so much money to go round - I'd rather it were spent on avoiding the next 7/7 than catching the dog owner who allows his dog to poop on the pavement

  11. Reality Dysfunction


    8 a day...

    So that 353 councils x 8 RIPA uses = 2824 total RIPA use by councils per year

    Get rid of Crazy southern nutter council and you can drop off to 352 councils and only 2509

    So 99.99 of councils have averaged 7.4 RIPA uses per year, and when you consider all the uses trading standards will have to log under this... firework sales monitoring, booze, fags, pets, meat trading... its a tiny amount.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it seems you really do have reality dysfunction

      as your arithmetic makes no sense.

    2. Vic

      Re: statistics...

      > So that 353 councils x 8 RIPA uses = 2824 total RIPA use by councils per year

      No. That's *per day*.

      > its a tiny amount.

      That's because you've failed to multiply by 365. Then it becomes a very big amount.


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Spying Councils

    Nice to see their misdeeds getting a bit more publicity than hitherto.

    RIPA isn't a 'Regulating' Act, it is an 'Enabling' Act, methinks

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Spying Councils

      "it is an 'Enabling' Act, methinks"

      No that's the new Communications Data Bill

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spying Councils

        True for both.

        It seems that the current govt is continuing the work of the previous govt in bring in legislation that purports to regulate certain activities, but in fact legitimises and enables those activities for any organisation that thinks of itself as (part of) government.

  13. Andy Fletcher

    That's the limit

    I'm buying a carrier pidgeon

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's the limit

      That's covered under the Regulation of Inquisitive Pigeons Act..

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: That's the limit

        >That's covered under the Regulation of Inquisitive Pigeons Act..

        Talk about unexpected consequences.

        No one expects the Inquisition!

  14. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
    Big Brother


    ....are about fines.

    Fines are about profit.

    RIPA helps this process along.

    Remember, when you pay your council tax, you are partly paying for the system that allows them to monitor and fine you to further increase the monies they can take from you. Monies that are then, usually, expended in bribing developers to build large, empty office blocks or elitist "waterfront developments" etc. that ensure those same developers then support the councillors who run the system in the first place.

    Welcome to Britain. Please smash some cameras on your way past.

  15. Triggerfish

    RE: Meh

    The problem isn't so much the fact that fly tipping is illegal. I agree prosecute fly tippers, etc.

    The problem is that this law was not designed to be used for this purpose and is incredibly invasive to peoples privacy, and if you don't object to how it is used then you are basically saying you (the council and council officers, and however else can call one up), have free reign to use and potentially abuse any law you think based on your own ethics and morals, rather than the law of this country.

    You say that these people are anti social (I can agree on some of this) because of their actions so let it happen.

    I argue that as a memeber of society its my social responsobility to object and provide a check and balance against the abuse of goverment powers and laws.

  16. gardener21
    Thumb Down

    Looks ok to me

    The report lists the reasons Councils have given for conducting investigations. They seem pretty reasonable to me. I'm wondering how else a Council would deal with some of these problems if they couldn't conduct an investigation.

    1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: Looks ok to me

      "...I'm wondering how else a Council would deal with some of these problems if they couldn't conduct an investigation..."

      It's an old-fashioned thing called "effective policing" which requires a "police force" with proper funding, staffing and training in local by-laws.

      We used to have such a thing, you know, back in the old days before the terr'ists turned up everywhere....

  17. RonWheeler

    Idiots like this stuff

    While we can all see the issues, the trouble is that the vast majority of the public are dumbass reality TV watching knuckledraggers. They like invasive, power mad, big brother types keeping them 'safe'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Idiots like this stuff

      yes, the truly depressing thing for me was watching the tv vox pop with one person after another trotting out the

      'if you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to worry about' crap. I may have nothing to hide but i don't want a local authority snooper going through my stuff to see what they can find.

      anonymous, cos y'never know...

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Idiots like this stuff

        "Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment...”

  18. Trainee grumpy old ****
    Big Brother

    "rose from 21,582 in 2009 to 31,210, the last year for which numbers are available." is the year classified information?

  19. Jim 59


    I would like to say something bit it might get spied on. I back everything the government does.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Snoop

      Thank you, your position has been noted and will be made available to the new government when it gets in.

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