Friday, April 11, 2008
Big Brother - Local Council's Licence To Spy
I have often questioned on this site the use/value of local councils. More often than not they seem intent on screwing the local residents for as much money as possible (in order to pay for their defined benefit pension schemes - long since abandoned by much of the private sector) and imposing a veritable smorgasbord of petty rules and regulations to make our lives more unpleasant and difficult.
The question often posed:
"What use are they, and what value do they add?"
Now, dear readers, I am happy to tell you that the answer has been provided (like manna from heaven) by Poole Council.
It would seem that the role of local councils, as they see it, is to spy on their own citizens; in the same manner as one would find in a dictatorship.
Poole council decided to spy on a couple and their three young children. The family were followed, watched at home, and had their movements scrutinised and timed without their knowledge.
Indeed, Nanny's chums in the Borough of Poole has admitted to using such "physical surveillance" on residents on six separate occasions over the past year.
Now, the question naturally arises, why did the council spy on this family?
Were they benefit cheats, defrauding fellow taxpayers of their hard earned taxes?
Were they criminals/terrorists posing a threat to the citizens of Poole?
Were they trying to jump the housing queue?
The council justified its decisions to spy on the family, by stating that it needed to know if they lived in the correct catchment area for their three-year-old daughter to be accepted at a local school.
Hang on a minute...since when was the possibility of lying about one's catchment area a potential crime or threat to society?
The mother has now been shown a detailed surveillance record, listing her movements on an almost daily basis from February 13 to March 3, including school runs with her children and the exact routes they drove.
They were followed more than once, and someone regularly parked outside their home, taking detailed notes such as "female and three children enter target vehicle and drive off" and "curtains open and all lights on in premises".
The report was signed off by a Borough of Poole education officer, and it also names the couple and their children aged three, six and 10 as subjects for surveillance.
The authority, or shall we say the right, for councils to supervise its own citizens comes from the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. This allows councils to carry out surveillance, but only for the investigation of crimes.
Again, catchment area issues are surely not crimes?
The mother said:
"I have had nothing to say how long the information will be kept for, who holds it and what the implications of having a RIPA order executed against you are. I'm absolutely incensed.
To be following us around for nearly three weeks, apart from being very creepy, is a huge infringement of my liberty."
My daughter is still having trouble sleeping. She's asking if there is a man outside watching us.
They could have contacted us, or come and knocked on the door rather than opting for surveillance which is completely underhand.
They could have treated us like human beings and come back for more information."
The council have also used the act to gain access to telephone subscription and billing information.
The family have lived in their Parkstone home for the last ten years, and their two eldest children went to the local first school.
Their property, which is in the correct catchment area, was put up for sale, but the couple made sure they remained living there until the end of January to ensure their youngest daughter qualified under Poole's school admission rules. After that, they moved to a property near Westbourne.
They explained the situation to the council, and provided bills and documents as requested. At a meeting with a schools admissions manager in mid March they were told they had been under surveillance.
However it was carried out after the council's admissions deadline, so, under the council's own rules, appears to be irrelevant.
Their daughter was accepted at the school.
Tim Martin, head of legal and democratic services, Borough of Poole, said:
"On a small number of occasions, RIPA procedures have been used to investigate potentially fraudulent applications for school places. In such circumstances, we have considered it appropriate to treat the matter as a potential criminal matter.
An investigation may actually satisfy the council that the application is valid, as happened in this case."
Catchment areas are not criminal issues!
The council has carried out physical surveillance on six occasions over the last financial year using RIPA procedures.
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, we now know what local councils are put on this earth for; they are here to spy on us!
It is now official, Nanny and her lackeys in the councils routinely carry out surveillance of her citizens.
Are you happy with that?
FYI, here is Poole council's email firstname.lastname@example.org feel free to have a chat with them.
BTW, Poole is a Tory council. I suggest that you have a few words with Cameron too about this matter. Here is his contact page David Cameron.
We have sleepwalked into a dictatorship!