The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is reviewing the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act which allows Councils to use hidden cameras for minor offences. One issue is whether covert surveillance should only be used for very serious crime and terrorism.
But where do you draw the line? A bunch of vandals caught on CCTV smashing a shop window? What if they are spraying graffiti on a shop window? A builders van flytipping? The reports mention dog fouling as something minor. But most do owners clear up after their dogs – it is a persistent minority that don't. When I canvass residents it is not a minor concern but often the first thing they mention. I'm pleased if Councils and the police have the power of enforcement required to be effective in stopping these problems.
I agree we shouldn't be adopting the same methods towards, for instance, parents who put down a false address in desperation to get their child into a good school or newsagents who employ paper boys under the age of 13.