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You are here: Home Page > Council and Democracy > Council News > Archived News > March 2011 > Council Surveillance Policy

Council Reviews Surveillance Policy

Bedford Borough Council has reviewed its surveillance policy.

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 fraud.

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 matters.

“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.”

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