Councils must apply to magistrates to spy on residents

PUBLISHED: 13:41 21 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:32 21 November 2012

Dartford and Gravesham Councils will only be able to carry out covert surveillance on residents if they believe there is a risk of a serious crime being committed.

Changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) mean councils now have to apply to magistrates to grant covert surveillance.

Local authorities can only use the powers if seeking to prevent or detect a criminal offence that passes the ‘serious crime test’, meaning those that would result in a prison sentence of at least six months.

Dartford Council met last month to acknowledge the changes. Minutes from the meeting state the council has “always aimed to use the powers in a responsible and proportionate way”.

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