Council Admits to Spying On Ealing Family

Anti-terrorism surveillance was used to police school intake policy

Related articles:

Cowboy Builders at Large in Ealing

Council Asks Residents To Help Make Future Policy

"Council May Be Allowing £500,000 to Slip Through its Fingers"

Getting a taste of their own medicine

Ealing: Lowest Council Tax Rise for 10 Years

Ealing Council


Sign up for a free newsletter from, and

Ealing Council has admitted to using powers meant for anti-terrorism surveillance to spy on a family believed to be lying on a school application form in 2003.

The council said that it snooped on a family as it tried to police the fair allocation of places at a local school.

A survey of 150 Local Education Authorities revealed only two councils did this - Ealing and Poole. They were allowed to watch the families under the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

This type of spying involves the monitoring of a person's movements, habits or activities by various means in order to obtain specific information about an individual or build a profile of their character or lifestyle.

The council said the surveillance was carried out on just one occasion, for 10 minutes.

"The suspicion was that the address supplied in the school placement application was incorrect, and that the child in fact resided elsewhere and outside of the school catchment area," said a spokesperson. "The suspicions were proved to be right, in that the address given for the child was incorrect.

The legislation was introduced to allow police and other security agencies to carry out surveillance on serious organised crime and terrorists. It was then taken up by councils to catch out people involved in "criminal activity".

Leader of the Council Jason Stacey told EalingToday that the current administration has never used this form of surveillance on residents. "The actual incident you refer to
took place in 2003 - some five years ago," he said. "Certainly in my time as Leader
of the Council we have not used the terrorism elements of the RIPA Act
to spy on citizens."




July 17, 2008