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Councils warned over using CCTV for "trivial" surveillance

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Local Councils have been warned over using CCTV surveillance cameras to stop “trivial” matters such as “dog fouling and littering”.

Conservative Chairman of the Local Government Association Sir Simon Milton urged Councils to carry out “an urgent review of surveillance operations” which are carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Sir Milton stressed that RIPA should only be used after “careful consideration” and that all required operations are “necessary and proportionate to prevent or detect a criminal offence”.

The LGA considers RIPA as a powerful tool for Councils to use when dealing with residents complaints however, recent publicity suggests some councils are taking advantage of the act by being “over zealous” with their authority.

Milton stated, “Parliament clearly intended that councils should use the new powers, and generally they are being used to respond to residents’ complaints about fly-tippers…Without these powers, councils would not be able to provide the level of reassurance and protection local people demand and deserve.”

Hounslow Council defended its use of CCTV cameras stating that RIPA has been used 56 times since it was made law and insist that they have only been for “serious matters concerning anti-social behaviour, for example drug dealing and for related housing and environmental matters.”

June 27, 2008