Concerns Raised Over Council ‘Snooping’ Policy

town hall windows signA St Mary’s councillor has described a policy outlining the Council’s legal rights to ‘snoop’ on residents as “like something they had in Nazi Germany before the war.”

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough was speaking at last week’s Full Council meeting, where Legal Officer Richard Burraston presented an updated version of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers policy.

It’s something that all Local Authorities in the country have to have by law, whether they use those powers or not.

It gives councillors and officers guidance on when covert surveillance, such as using secret audio recordings, intercepting phone calls or post, can be used and how it needs to be approached legally.

But Cllr Bilsborough didn’t like the policy.

He said he appreciated that they had to combat crime but felt this was, “the thin end of the wedge towards an intrusive society.”

Cllr Christine Savill said they didn’t have a choice and remembered not long ago having “two gentlemen coming over for two days inspecting the policy.” She said they needed to take it seriously.

Cllr Richard McCarthy said it was “one of most impenetrable documents” he’d had to read and asked if they’d ever actually used it.

He was told it hadn’t been used in Scilly in the 15 years since the legislation was introduced, and Mr Burraston assured councillors that a magistrate would need to give approval for any surveillance to take place.

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