Bradford Council to amend policy on covert surveillance

Bradford Council is to amend its surveillance policy

Bradford Council is to amend its surveillance policy

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Bradford Council is to amend its policy on surveillance in light of new Government guidelines.

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), the authority must now apply for approval from magistrates if it wishes to carry out covert surveillance operations.

Its policy must also clarify where surveillance can be used, said Councillor Lynne Smith, chairman of the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee. She said the changes made to Council policy would only be minor because the authority follows surveillance rules strictly.

Coun Smith said: “We are amending our policy to reflect the Government guidelines that have been issued, although the changes we are making are very, very minor. For us, in practice, the changes will not make any difference. Our practice is very much in line with the rules anyway. The only change for us is the getting permission from magistrates.

“In terms of the steps before that, we already have very tight restrictions on surveillance.”

The committee is meeting today to discuss the Government changes to RIPA. A report to the committee recommends that “the Council’s policy relating to RIPA be amended to note the serious offence test applies to only directed surveillance from November 1 2012”.

The serious offence test means that directed surveillance can only be carried out in connection with investigations into offences that would lead to six months or more in prison. The two exceptions to that rule are the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to children.

Coun Smith said: “The Government has brought in the new guidelines because there has been controversy where councils have used surveillance in the wrong way, such as catching people who let their dogs foul.

“It needs to be amended because we need to do so to comply with the guidelines, but we don’t need to change much.” A report last August told of a need to overhaul the RIPA legislation, highlighting councils which used the powers to catch dog owners whose pets fouled the streets and to investigate breaches of the smoking ban.

Campaign group Big Brother Watch said local councils had carried out more than 9,000 surveillance operations over a three-year period.

Coun Smith said it was the opposite for Bradford Council.

She said: “We have not used any covert surveillance for more than three years. We always believe that covert surveillance needs to be used only as a last resort and in serious instances.”

The new guidelines were introduced in November, but Coun Smith said: “There is usually a period of grace for councils to catch up.”

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:01pm Fri 22 Mar 13

RollandSmoke says...

So the council spies on us, thousands of people are being forced from their homes into smaller properties which for the most part don't exist. The disposable incomes of the poorest in society are being totally decimated. Then you run a story claiming some people arn't as "civil minded" as they should be. Well guess what? when the government and councils play the role of peoples enemy it should come as no suprise when some see them as exactly that and start thinking stuff your rules. As the council has no problem with covert surveillance I think it's time for the general public to start prying into the private lives of our MPs. Whats good for the goose as they say.
So the council spies on us, thousands of people are being forced from their homes into smaller properties which for the most part don't exist. The disposable incomes of the poorest in society are being totally decimated. Then you run a story claiming some people arn't as "civil minded" as they should be. Well guess what? when the government and councils play the role of peoples enemy it should come as no suprise when some see them as exactly that and start thinking stuff your rules. As the council has no problem with covert surveillance I think it's time for the general public to start prying into the private lives of our MPs. Whats good for the goose as they say. RollandSmoke
  • Score: 0

7:09pm Fri 22 Mar 13

ANY WHERE BUT HERE says...

Those counter terrorism measures brought in by Labour. Made sure you were sending your children to the right school. Very very scary.
Those counter terrorism measures brought in by Labour. Made sure you were sending your children to the right school. Very very scary. ANY WHERE BUT HERE
  • Score: 0

9:30pm Fri 22 Mar 13

RollandSmoke says...

ANY WHERE BUT HERE wrote:
Those counter terrorism measures brought in by Labour. Made sure you were sending your children to the right school. Very very scary.
What you mean the measures brought in after Peter Powers ran his terror excersise on 7/7 for an unknown client with more or less the same scenario that was described on Panorama the year before by himself and Micheal Portillo, and where the police shot "suspected terrorists" at Canary Warf? I blame Saddam Hussain and his WMDs
[quote][p][bold]ANY WHERE BUT HERE[/bold] wrote: Those counter terrorism measures brought in by Labour. Made sure you were sending your children to the right school. Very very scary.[/p][/quote]What you mean the measures brought in after Peter Powers ran his terror excersise on 7/7 for an unknown client with more or less the same scenario that was described on Panorama the year before by himself and Micheal Portillo, and where the police shot "suspected terrorists" at Canary Warf? I blame Saddam Hussain and his WMDs RollandSmoke
  • Score: 0

3:31pm Sun 24 Mar 13

Not so simple says...

By the way people...the RIPA provisions just don't stop at the council.

Social landlords as the big ones we have in the City also use RIPA through various direct and indirect surveillance....it would be interesting to know exactly who authorises such actions from within these firms and based upon which reliable source of credible evidence. These landlords are run by the same people who had the Jobs under the control of the council....these stinky rats get about and stay under the radar whilst deflecting criticism.

Intelligence is used by the police and courts derived from persons informing the housing associations about trouble some residents.....I must point out to you that some of these informants have the potential to generally use the narrow minded ness of the staff who are just bothered about their 9-5 jobs and pensions, to play out their own agendas against persons they don't like or approve of on the estates.

I'll give you an example how it works;
The housing providers have enforcement departments. These departments are fed info from tenants ( who remain anonymous) via the local housing officer. The information is deemed to be correct as it is fed via the tenants to the housing officer who in turn passes it onto the enforcement dept who then works with the police, social services and other agencies to deal with the issue....this is open to potential abuse. The cheif execs of these housing providers then can within RIPA authorise CCTV and spying at the alledged trouble makers. Occasionally the CCTV and spying is not needed as they, the enforcement dept and police may rely on the witness statements that have already been handed to them via the housing office.

Basically the entire system is open to abuse.

I would also question the integrity, honesty and transparency of the housing officers, witnesses, police officers and the cheif execs who authorise the CCTV etc.
By the way people...the RIPA provisions just don't stop at the council. Social landlords as the big ones we have in the City also use RIPA through various direct and indirect surveillance....it would be interesting to know exactly who authorises such actions from within these firms and based upon which reliable source of credible evidence. These landlords are run by the same people who had the Jobs under the control of the council....these stinky rats get about and stay under the radar whilst deflecting criticism. Intelligence is used by the police and courts derived from persons informing the housing associations about trouble some residents.....I must point out to you that some of these informants have the potential to generally use the narrow minded ness of the staff who are just bothered about their 9-5 jobs and pensions, to play out their own agendas against persons they don't like or approve of on the estates. I'll give you an example how it works; The housing providers have enforcement departments. These departments are fed info from tenants ( who remain anonymous) via the local housing officer. The information is deemed to be correct as it is fed via the tenants to the housing officer who in turn passes it onto the enforcement dept who then works with the police, social services and other agencies to deal with the issue....this is open to potential abuse. The cheif execs of these housing providers then can within RIPA authorise CCTV and spying at the alledged trouble makers. Occasionally the CCTV and spying is not needed as they, the enforcement dept and police may rely on the witness statements that have already been handed to them via the housing office. Basically the entire system is open to abuse. I would also question the integrity, honesty and transparency of the housing officers, witnesses, police officers and the cheif execs who authorise the CCTV etc. Not so simple
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree