Councils’ surveillance powers curbed

The “surveillance state” powers of local authorities to snoop on the public are to be curbed under reforms announced by the home secretary, Alan Johnson.

Junior council officials are to lose the authority to order surveillance operations including secret filming and eavesdropping for “trivial reasons”, such as catching people putting out their rubbish on the wrong day or letting their dogs foul the street. In future only council chief executives and directors will have the power to order covert surveillance operations and a new code of practice will ban their use for minor matters.

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