Lib Dem councillor reveals Lancashire Town hall uses anti-terror laws to snoop on cleaners

by Stephen Tall on June 18, 2009

The Mirror reports the news:

Laws designed to fight terrorists and gangsters have been used by a council to spy on its cleaners.

It was revealed yesterday that town hall bosses employed the draconian measures over 500 times, including one occasion to snoop on bus drivers.

Lancashire county council’s tactics were uncovered by Lib Dem Mark Jewell who branded them “an abuse of power.”

Using Freedom of Information, he found out county hall chiefs in Preston ordered surveillance on the cleaners to check if they worked the right hours.

Mr Jewell discovered they frequently used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act between 2001 and 2008. …

A spokesman said the council had been trying to ensure value on contracts. He added: “We don’t do inquiries for trivial matters.” But Mr Jewell was furious. He said: “It says something when they spy on their own people.” …

Lord Carlile QC, who reviews anti-terror laws, warned yesterday that police who use force or threats to make photographers delete pictures of officers could face prosecution.

Lib Dem Voice has been tracking for some time now the ways in which RIPA laws are being used by authorities to keep tabs on citizens well beyond the intention of the act – you can view the archive of stories here.