Use of RIPA by Kent Councils

Below is a list of some of the activities conducted under RIPA by some of the Kent Councils, this information was taken from the Kent Online
• In the case of Kent County Council, surveillance was mainly used by trading standards officers investigating a range of offences from the sale of counterfeit goods to establishing the identity of fly-tippers.
Its activities involved checking phone records 23 times during two inquiries into the storage of petrol without a licence.
In 2007, it used the powers 18 times, with investigations involving monitoring a warehouse suspected of selling counterfeit toys and the surveillance of a vehicle suspected of being involved in cold callers offering to lay tarmac drives.
The previous year, it used the legislation 28 times, chiefly in relation to investigations into the sale of counterfeit goods. On two occassions, it was used to identify cold callers while a major investigation into fly-tipping saw it used for 14 separate events.

• Medway Council confirmed there had been 121 authorised surveillance operations over the last three years but in its reponse to our request refused to provide details, saying it would take too long to collate all the information.
It used the Ripa powers 36 times in 2007-2008; 54 times in 2006-07 and 58 times in 2005-06.

• Maidstone Borough Council carried out a three-week long surveillance on an employee it suspected might be working somewhere else while on sick leave as one of seven authorised operations last year. The claim proved to be unfounded.
It also took photos and video footage while investigating five incidents of fly-tipping throughout the year.

• Dartford Borough Council conducted 21 surveillance operations in 2007-08 for alleged offences that included a drugs operation; off-road bikes causing a nuisance as part of efforts to crack down on graffitti.
It also used the legislation to investigate a complaint of racial criminal damage, in a joint initiative with Kent Police. However, 11 investigations led to no further action being taken.

• Four surveillance operations by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council involved checks on unlicensed drivers and monitoring of a pub that was alleged to be causing a public nuisance to nearby residents.
In one case, it took secret aerial photos during an investigation into an alleged planning breach.

• Swale Borough Council authorised covert operations to investigate one case of dog fouling.
Five other investigations, in which council tenants were suspected of housing and benefit fraud, were also authorised.

• Dover District Council carried out eight surveillance operations into claims of benefit fraud and two into allegations of anti-social behaviour last year.

• Ashford Borough Council carried out just four surveillance operations last year, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council just two.

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