Council Reviews Surveillance Policy
Bedford Borough Council has reviewed its surveillance
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 allowed all
councils to monitor individuals for the purpose of preventing or
detecting crime or public disorder. In the Borough these powers
have been used to prevent criminal acts such as underage sales of
alcohol, noise nuisance to households and detecting benefit
However, other Councils have been reported as using them to
monitor the contents of rubbish bins or to check if children live
within a school catchment area which has led to widespread
criticism of them.
Under new rules agreed by the Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave
Hodgson, the Council has now significantly curbed the permitted use
of the powers as well as making the process more transparent.
From now on only the most senior managers will be able to give
permission for these powers to be used, meaning fewer people will
be able to authorise their use. Bedford Borough Council is
committed to increasing openness through local government and the
use of investigatory powers is no exception. Under the new rules,
all instances of these powers being used will be made available to
the public every quarter at Council Executive meetings.
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “These regulations
were introduced in good faith as a method for monitoring those who
may seek to avoid prosecution for crimes committed unless covert
surveillance is used. However, some authorities have abused
this power and snooped on local residents for much more trivial
“However, we are taking these measures to reassure local
residents that these powers will not be abused in Bedford Borough.
Furthermore, by opening up the process to scrutiny every quarter we
are demonstrating our commitment to being open and transparent so
that all residents will have the opportunity to see for themselves
where these powers are used.”