William Eichler 04 November 2015

Council staff could face prison for abusing surveillance powers

Council staff could face prison for abusing surveillance powers image

Local authority workers who abuse powers to spy on the public for ‘trivial’ offences will face two years in jail under laws unveiled by the Government today.

The new legislation could also lead to councils being banned from accessing the public’s Internet browsing history if they are found to be misusing it.

The Investigatory Powers Bill — an update of what has been dubbed the ‘snoopers charter’ —includes these safeguards in a bid to make it more palatable to sceptical MPs and civil liberties campaigners.

Yesterday the prime minister described the new Bill as 'one of the most important pieces of legislation' in this parliament and said the proposals go 'to the heart of the Government's duty to keep the British public safe'.

They are in place to tackle serious crime such as terrorism, child abuse and fraud.

However, the legislation still contains the following contentious proposals:

• It will compel Internet firms to retain details of the public’s Internet records for 12 months.
• It will allow the authorities to force web companies to hand over encrypted apps and emails on the production of a warrant.
• Ministers will retain the power to sign off on warrants allowing MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the police to access personal computers and monitor the contents.
• It will provide a legal framework for GCHQ to collect people’s personal data—including mobile phone numbers and Internet searches.

Before today surveillance powers were governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) but, after a number of high profile cases of council staff using the powers to deal with ‘trivial’ matters, it was felt further checks needed to be introduced.

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Independent non-executive members of proposed NHS Integrated Care Boards

Do you have the vision to shape the future of health and care for people in your area? Nationwide
Recuriter: NHS

Lead Community Protection Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37722 - £40869 per annum + value award of £2,472 per annum
2 x Lead Community Protection OfficersCommunity Protection Team(PO3 plus an incremental value award of £2,472 per annum) Permanent Our Community Prote England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

School Organisation Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£41,952- £48,663
We’re giving a platform to people inside and outside our community. Because, we’re not just home to the UK’s fast-growing economy. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Service Manager (Referral and Assessment)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£60,426 to £74,202 per annum
Can you inspire, encourage, and develop excellent social work practice to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Asset Management Team Administrator

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618 per annum
The role is what you make it, and the more you put in, the bigger the difference you can make to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue