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LGA - Lobbying success ensures councils can continue using RIPA to fight serious crime
Responding to the Home Secretary’s announcement on councils’ future use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, Cllr Mehboob Khan, chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“Councils should only be using covert surveillance as a last resort and any usage is always recorded and fully transparent. Hopefully this announcement will dispel the myth that all councils use RIPA for is to snoop. In certain cases, it is the only way that they can protect public safety and ensure criminals are bought to justice.
“The Government has clearly listened to our arguments and recognised that councils tackle serious crimes which often affect the most vulnerable people in the community. Without being able to use covert surveillance, councils would have been fighting crime with one hand tied behind their backs.
“The LG Group lobbied hard to ensure that councils would also be able to continue using RIPA to tackle irresponsible retailers who persist in selling alcohol and tobacco to children, and we are pleased that the Government has seen sense..
“If in future councils need to seek Magistrates’ authorisation before using RIPA, then assurances must be given that the process will be swift and that investigations will not be hindered. In urgent cases, immediate access to a Judge must be granted and all applications must be heard in private to prevent on-going operations from being undermined.
“Let’s not forget that it is because of surveillance that councils are putting more benefits cheats and loan sharks behind bars, anti-social behaviour rates are down, serious enviro-crime is being tackled and would-be fraudsters are thinking twice about cheating the system.”
Author: LGA Media Team
Contact: LGA Media Office, Tel: 020 7664 3333