And when the government keeps on passing yet more fucking laws that infringe our freedoms, they too are only to be used in the most extreme circumstances. We can trust them, right?
So, via Obnoxio, how have we been doing on those anti-terrorism laws?
Sir Jeremy Beecham, the acting chairman of the Local Government Association, which represents councils, said last night: "Councils are tuned into people's fears about the potential overzealous use of these crime-fighting powers. They know that they're only to be used to tackle residents' complaints about serious offences, like when benefit cheats are robbing hard-working taxpayers or fly-by-night traders are ripping off vulnerable pensioners."
Uh-huh. That's right, Jeremy; create the demons of evil and picture them robbing poor, vulnerable pensioners. Oh, and the chiiiiiildreeeeeen, of course.
He added: "Councils do not use these powers to mount fishing expeditions. First and foremost it is about protecting the public, not intruding on privacy. Crime-busting powers are targeted at suspected criminals and used only when absolutely necessary."
I can't help thinking that these councils' definition of "absolutely necessary" is rather different from mine. Shall we see what they have been up to?
Smokers, drivers and even emails are being monitored
- Newcastle City Council used the Act to monitor noise levels from smoking shelters at two different licensed premises. The council has twice used the legislation to monitor noise from a vet’s practice following a complaint about barking.
- Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council used it to deal with 16 complaints about barking dogs.
- Derby Council made sound recordings at a property following a complaint about noisy children.
- Peterborough Council investigated the operation of the blue badge scheme for disabled drivers.
- Poole Council used it to detect illegal fishing in Poole Harbour.
- Basingstoke Council used photographic surveillance against one of its own refuse collectors after allegations he was charging residents for a service that should be free. The operation was dropped when it was decided the allegation was false.
- Aberdeenshire Council admitted using the Scottish version of the Act to request the name and address of a mobile phone user as part of an investigation into offences under the Weights and Measures Act.
- Easington council put a resident’s garden under camera surveillance after a complaint from neighbours about noise.
- Canterbury City Council used CCTV surveillance and an officer’s observations to monitor illegal street trading.
- Brighton and Hove council launched four operations against graffiti artists.
- Torbay Council accessed an employee’s emails after an allegation that suspect material had been sent. A second employee was investigated over the “use of council vehicle for personal gain”.
- Westminster City Council covertly filmed a locksmith following allegations of fraud.
- Durham County Council obtained authorisation to monitor car boot sales during an investigation into the sale of counterfeit goods.
Power in the hands of local authorities
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act allows for the interception of communications, acquisition and disclosure of data relating to communications, carrying-out of surveillance, use of covert intelligence sources and access to encrypted or password-protected data.
It can be evoked by public servants on the grounds of national security, and for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime, preventing disorder, public safety, protecting public health, or in the interests of the UK’s economic well-being. Councils were first granted use of the legislation in 2003.
This is what happens when you give these tedious little fuckers any kind of power. Power does corrupt—we know this and yet we continue to hand over more and more power to the state in order to fulfill the eradication of our own little betes noire.
And yes, I know that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 is supposed to constrain the extent to which councils can spy on you, but that isn't really relevant—first, because it's not working and second because these fuckers should never have had these powers in the first place.
As my impecunious Athenian friend has noted, there is a new smoking consultation out which has an interesting question.
Via Alex Massie, I see that our political masters are taking soundings on the possibility of further clampdowns on the rights of smokers.Question 12: Do you believe that more should be done by the Government to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke within private dwellings or in vehicles used primarily for private purposes? If so, what do you think could be done?
I am not a smoker, and I do not deny the harmful effects of regular smoking on your health or that of your family. For the state to presume that it has any right to regulate my conduct in the privacy of my home, though, is a greater evil by far.
Indeed it is. But at least when smoking in the privacy of your own home is banned, we know what law the councils will be using to try to catch you breaking that law, eh?
If there is one thing that history surely should have taught us by now it is that, when you give the state power, several things happen:
- The state will abbuse that power
- The state will use the power to grant itself more power
- Freedom will decrease
- The state agents will attempt to ensure that they are exempt from the constraints thereby imposed
Christ on a crutch! when will people fucking learn? Are the people of this country collectively insane? Surely the famous definition of insanity is that of attempting the same thing again and again and hoping for a different outcome?
Fucking hell, what a bunch of cunts.