The issue of councils misusing RIPA has been reported numerous of time.
However, the South Wales police have taken it one step further. In 2008 they spent around £100,000 on following one of their fellow officer’s, while he was at home, on sick leave. South Wales Police alleged that P.c. Mark Pugh, who was on sick leave, was not really sick and so was not entitled to all the benefits.
The surveillance conducted against Pc Pugh included filming him taking out bins from his house and going to rugby matches. A total of 11 officers from South Wales and Dyfed-Powys police forces were used to spy on PC Pugh for months. This work would have required RIPA to be used.
While nobody likes a lazy person claiming benefits (not that Pc Pugh appears to have been that), is it proportional to put vans outside of somebodies home, at a cost of £100,000? The police could only do this, because they had such an array capabilities at their disposal. No normal company would ever be able to consider such an operation.
What makes this worse is that Pc Pugh was off work as he had mental health issues. After being involved in a large scale riot he had been diagnosed with depression and had been suicidal, as such he was under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
While the video footage of PC Pugh showed that he had been playing rugby, and moving around normally, this did not show he was mentally well.
You can’t measure sanity with video taken by surveillance offices, any more than you can with a thermometer! The courts thought the same and said that evidence against PC Pugh was not valid.