RIPA use to spy on family
RIPA, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, was originally designed “for using methods of surveillance and information gathering to help the prevention of crime, including terrorism”. However, more and more it has been used for minor offences, rather than those of a more serious nature.
The laws, aimed at terrorists, have now been used to spy on parents to see if their children is attending the right school. From the statements of the council (see below) it is clear that case is not an isolated incident. In Pool the local council authorized the surveillance of a family to see which school their child should attend. This included following the family.
Below is a log created by Pool County Council, who authorized the surveillance of the family. Despite this incredibly heavy handed, and disproportionate approach to dealing with children’s school applications the action of following the family has been justified by Tim Martin, Head of Borough of Poole’s Legal and Democratic Service who stated that “The council is committed to investigating the small minority of people who attempt to break the law and affect the quality of life for the majority of law-abiding residents in Poole. On a small number of occasions, RIPA procedures have been used to investigate potentially fraudulent applications for school places. In such circumstances, we have considered it appropriate to treat the matter as a potential criminal matter.”
While the Tim Martin may have thought this at the time he may now be forced to retract this. The Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton has written to councils warning of overzealous use of the powers could alienate the public and their use could be disproportionate.