Council Spies Bait and Switch
Councils in England have been urged to review the way they use surveillance powers to investigate suspected crime.
Under laws brought in to help fight terrorism, councils can access phone and e-mail records and use surveillance to detect or stop a criminal offence...Figures released by councils under the Freedom of Information Act show that thousands of people have had their telephone and e-mail records accessed.
But Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton has written to councils warning overzealous use of the powers could alienate the public.
They should not be used for "trivial offences" such as dog fouling, he adds.
Sir Simon urges councils to use the powers only for complaints about more serious matters such as fly tipping, rogue traders and housing benefit fraud.
The powers were brought in for Terrorism - flytipping isn't terrorism, housing benefit fraud doesn't kill people just because you want the councils to stop using them against dogfouling doesn't mean that it then becomes "necessary and proportionate" to use them against other petty criminals. It is the bloody bait and switch at work, if we stop beating you with an iron bar that makes it alright to thrash you with a stick.