Londoners have been subject to more than 10,000 days of covert surveillance by councils since 2011, new figures have revealed.
Some 27 London borough councils have launched almost 500 surveillance operations over the last five years, but which local authorities did the most spying?
A raft of Freedom Of Information requests can reveal surveillance operations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa). Ripa allows councils to deploy secret cameras, audio equipment and and private detectives to spy on members on the public.
However, critics have cited its use by local authorities as a sign of creeping surveillance state.
And now, City A.M. can reveal which councils have spent the most time spying on residents and visitors.
The top 3 biggest offenders were:
- Islington, 43 operations covering a total of 2755 days
- Brent, 43 operations over 2495 days
- Bromley, 50 operations lasting 2070 days.
Examples of surveillance operations include an investigation into “misleading” theatre ticket sales by Westminster Council.
In Bromley, the council deployed CCTV cameras to help investigate the sale of suspicious meat which could not be traced to an origin.
And Brent Council spent 90 days investigating offences linked to the operation of a pet shop.
Several other councils installed cameras and spy gear to catch suspected flytippers.
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman and former Met Police chief Lord Paddick said: “It’s absurd that local authorities are using measures intended for combating terrorism for issues as the sale of theatre tickets.
“Spying on the public should be a last resort not an everyday tool.”