Search

Camden Council forced to rein in surveillance of residents

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 December 2014

Camden Council's use of the 'Grim RIPA' powers have been curbed

Camden Council's use of the 'Grim RIPA' powers have been curbed

Archant

Camden Council is watching you...a little less and less these days, it would seem.

While the Ham&High was snooping through council documents this week, a batch of figures popped out showing its use of controversial surveillance laws on residents had dropped rather dramatically in recent years.

Since the arrival of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), or RIPA, local authorities had been jumping at the chance to keep an eye on their citizens, “for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or preventing disorder”.

Whether they’re suspected of parking misdemeanors, benefit fraud, antisocial behaviour, or a “misuse of resources”, surveillance had started to become a go-to policy for Camden Council.

Figures show that between 2002 and 2005, its applications to spy on residents rose from 13 to 36.

The next four years saw a dramatic jump, reaching a height of 83 in 2007. Most were for what it deemed “antisocial behaviour”.

Practices typically include covert tailing, secret photography and using hidden cameras.

But while they defended its use, there was a feeling local authorities like Camden Council were getting too much of a feel for hiding in the bushes.

The “Grim Ripa”, as it was branded by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, risked being abused and powers were curbed.

After the government brought in the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012), councils were required to gain judicial approval prior to using the covert techniques, and it limited the investigation of crimes to those which attract a minimum six-month sentence.

And the changes suggest the council may have previously been using the law in the ways privacy campaigners had feared.

With the changes mooted in 2010, the number of requests by the council dropped to just nine in 2011.

Last year, it was able to make just one request and to date, no requests have been made in 2014.

A council spokesman confirmed: “New legislative restrictions have meant Camden no longer has the powers to carry out the types of surveillance it previously undertook.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Fri, 17:52

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Fri, 14:09

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

Fri, 13:32

Sardonic, sarcastic and funny are three of the words that have been used to describe the late-SOAS lecturer and King’s Cross local Prof Lawrence Saez, who died at the beginning of September.

Fri, 12:49

Jamie Brown of Archant Local Impact explains how you can build brand awareness.

Thu, 19:01

This year’s Remembrance Day will see a remarkable multi-faith ceremony bring together the Highgate community to remember the horrors of the First World War on the centenary of its conclusion.

Thu, 16:43

Christmas came early for activists in West Hampstead last night after Camden Council refused to grant christmas tree sellers Pines and Needles a licence to trade from Fortune Green.

Thu, 15:00

“Zero-hours” critical care nurses at the Royal Free Trust are facing a pay cut that could set them back thousands of pounds a year, the Ham&High can reveal.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now