A Bradford Council application to use surveillance to investigate thefts was turned down by court, reveals report

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Council request to spy on employee refused Bradford Council request to spy on employee refused

Bradford Council was refused permission to spy on a staff member suspected of stealing school property to sell on eBay, it has emerged.

The Council’s Corporate Fraud team had applied to the courts to use covert surveillance on an employee suspected of stealing commercial food equipment from the district’s school canteen services and then selling it online auction site.

But an application was refused by magistrates last September, who said the police could be asked to investigate the alleged thefts instead.

Despite this, the investigation continued, with the Corporate Fraud team instead using documentary evidence and compiling witness statements.

The matter has come to light in a report into the Council’s use of covert surveillance techniques to investigate wrongdoing by either staff or members of the public.

It says the staff member – who has not been identified – is now facing disciplinary procedures. Yesterday, the authority refused to say whether the alleged thefts had been reported to the police.

The report, going before the Council’s Corporate Governance and Audit Committee on Friday, says over the past year the Council has applied to the courts to use these powers only twice.

One was in relation to the suspected theft of catering equipment, and the other was into allegations that a member of the public was running an unlicensed food business from their home.

This application was approved by the courts, and a case against the individual is now proceeding through the courts.

The number of applications by Bradford Council to use surveillance has fallen sharply from the year before, when there were seven applications to use covert surveillance, four of which were approved.

Councillor Lynne Smith (Lab), committee chairman, welcomed the reduction and said the Council had a good record of keeping such activity to an absolute minimum.

She said: “We have never done surveillance for things like school places, dog fouling, that sort of thing. There are so many other measures we can use, we don’t have to resort to this kind of invasion of privacy. The measures should be used sparingly, and we are using them sparingly, and getting the job done.”

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

Surveillance techniques are classified as covert if they are done without the knowledge of the target.
Techniques available to local authorities include the use of undercover officers such as test purchasers, directed surveillance such as monitoring a person’s movements, or obtaining information about someone’s e-mails, phone calls or text messages – but not the content of any messages.

Bradford Council’s own policy says it would not contemplate monitoring someone’s internet or phone use “other than in exceptional circumstances”.

Local authorities cannot spy on someone in their own home or private vehicle, as this can only be carried out by the police or intelligence services.

The surveillance rules for local authorities were tightened up in 2012, following a national outcry over some councils using the powers to investigate minor offences such as dog fouling.

Now, local authorities have to apply to the courts to use covert surveillance, and can also only use the powers when the target is suspected of an offence which would be punished by at least six months in prison.

The exceptions to this rule are for anyone suspected of selling alcohol or cigarettes to a minor, which carries a fine.

Comments (10)

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7:07am Mon 31 Mar 14

Johsay says...

Just ring the Police instead of wasting my council tax on expensive surveillance.

Which you'd then hand to the Police.
Just ring the Police instead of wasting my council tax on expensive surveillance. Which you'd then hand to the Police. Johsay
  • Score: 12

7:14am Mon 31 Mar 14

Albion. says...

Johsay wrote:
Just ring the Police instead of wasting my council tax on expensive surveillance.

Which you'd then hand to the Police.
And would anything happen? I'd have had someone keep an eye on him and **** the law! It's ridiculous if you can't investigate these things.
[quote][p][bold]Johsay[/bold] wrote: Just ring the Police instead of wasting my council tax on expensive surveillance. Which you'd then hand to the Police.[/p][/quote]And would anything happen? I'd have had someone keep an eye on him and **** the law! It's ridiculous if you can't investigate these things. Albion.
  • Score: 22

9:53am Mon 31 Mar 14

Joedavid says...

In my working life private industry shows people who steal the door same day and their employment over.
In my working life private industry shows people who steal the door same day and their employment over. Joedavid
  • Score: 12

10:41am Mon 31 Mar 14

Andy2010 says...

I dont understand from the story why they needed to spy on them in the first place. Surely if they are running a food business from their own premises it would be really easy to just check (just buy some)

Secondly if they are selling goods stolen on Ebay....well urm just check on Ebay...ask to view and check the serials.

Instead they choose to spy on them .....have they no common sense
I dont understand from the story why they needed to spy on them in the first place. Surely if they are running a food business from their own premises it would be really easy to just check (just buy some) Secondly if they are selling goods stolen on Ebay....well urm just check on Ebay...ask to view and check the serials. Instead they choose to spy on them .....have they no common sense Andy2010
  • Score: 5

11:03am Mon 31 Mar 14

alive and awake says...

Sounds like the Bradford Council Security Dept. isn't up to much. I know of private sector Security Departments that would have had this all sorted easily, the first thing anyone would have known is when the Police were knocking on the door.
Sounds like the Bradford Council Security Dept. isn't up to much. I know of private sector Security Departments that would have had this all sorted easily, the first thing anyone would have known is when the Police were knocking on the door. alive and awake
  • Score: 7

1:20pm Mon 31 Mar 14

The Hoffster says...

Joedavid wrote:
In my working life private industry shows people who steal the door same day and their employment over.
What's stealing doors got to do with this ??
[quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: In my working life private industry shows people who steal the door same day and their employment over.[/p][/quote]What's stealing doors got to do with this ?? The Hoffster
  • Score: 3

3:48pm Mon 31 Mar 14

allinittogether says...

alive and awake wrote:
Sounds like the Bradford Council Security Dept. isn't up to much. I know of private sector Security Departments that would have had this all sorted easily, the first thing anyone would have known is when the Police were knocking on the door.
Why bother with some grubby private sector wannabees? If a crime has been committed report it to the police it's what they are there for.
[quote][p][bold]alive and awake[/bold] wrote: Sounds like the Bradford Council Security Dept. isn't up to much. I know of private sector Security Departments that would have had this all sorted easily, the first thing anyone would have known is when the Police were knocking on the door.[/p][/quote]Why bother with some grubby private sector wannabees? If a crime has been committed report it to the police it's what they are there for. allinittogether
  • Score: 0

3:53pm Mon 31 Mar 14

tinytoonster says...

Joedavid wrote:
In my working life private industry shows people who steal the door same day and their employment over.
yeah but council cannot sack people, just re-deploy!
unions wont allow it.
and we pay for the union, wether we like it or not!
[quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: In my working life private industry shows people who steal the door same day and their employment over.[/p][/quote]yeah but council cannot sack people, just re-deploy! unions wont allow it. and we pay for the union, wether we like it or not! tinytoonster
  • Score: 0

5:47pm Mon 31 Mar 14

alive and awake says...

allinittogether wrote:
alive and awake wrote:
Sounds like the Bradford Council Security Dept. isn't up to much. I know of private sector Security Departments that would have had this all sorted easily, the first thing anyone would have known is when the Police were knocking on the door.
Why bother with some grubby private sector wannabees? If a crime has been committed report it to the police it's what they are there for.
All private sector Companies of any size have a security dept. nothing to do with wannabes, usually very efficient in my experience, much more so than the Police.
[quote][p][bold]allinittogether[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alive and awake[/bold] wrote: Sounds like the Bradford Council Security Dept. isn't up to much. I know of private sector Security Departments that would have had this all sorted easily, the first thing anyone would have known is when the Police were knocking on the door.[/p][/quote]Why bother with some grubby private sector wannabees? If a crime has been committed report it to the police it's what they are there for.[/p][/quote]All private sector Companies of any size have a security dept. nothing to do with wannabes, usually very efficient in my experience, much more so than the Police. alive and awake
  • Score: 2

10:37pm Mon 31 Mar 14

BierleyBoy says...

What a bunch of bumbling numpties. A simple check of equipment purchases against inventory would show discrepancies. Match them against items sold online.

Plant a marked item similar to what was being stolen & wait for it to be put on sale. If claimed he didn't steal it, still guilty of handling stolen goods.
What a bunch of bumbling numpties. A simple check of equipment purchases against inventory would show discrepancies. Match them against items sold online. Plant a marked item similar to what was being stolen & wait for it to be put on sale. If claimed he didn't steal it, still guilty of handling stolen goods. BierleyBoy
  • Score: 2

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