Solihull Council must review snooping powers, watchdog warns - The Solihull Observer

Solihull Council must review snooping powers, watchdog warns

Solihull Editorial 16th Mar, 2020 Updated: 16th Mar, 2020   0

THE UK’s spy watchdog has told Solihull Council it must inform councillors when snooping powers are used.

The Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, which audits surveillance operations by public bodies, told the borough council it must be more accountable to elected members.

According to the council’s figures, last year saw two surveillance operations launched, with two authorisations granted by magistrates.

The borough is now reviewing its surveillance practices after it received a report by the commissioner.

Other actions advised by the IPCO, led by judge Sir Brian Leveson, include an annual update sent to the council’s governance committee, along with giving councillors the chance to review surveillance policies every year.

In its report to the governance committee, Solihull Council’s Deputy Chief Executive Andrew Kinsey said: “Surveillance is often conducted, amongst other things, to investigate a benefit fraud or to collect evidence of rogue trading/fly tipping.

“Typical methods include covertly following people, covertly taking photographs of them and using hidden cameras to record their movements.”

Council officers plan to update the policy to include recommendations from the IPCO. Mr Kinsey added: “The policy to be further revised to include all references to the IPCO and the revised codes of guidance.

“The RIPA [Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act] policy will be updated to take into account what has been observed by the inspector. This revised policy will be presented to the council’s governance committee for adoption on March 18 2020.”

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