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SALFORD COUNCIL SPIES ON ITS OWN COMMUNITY
 

Star date: 12th June 2013

NEVER MIND GCHQ AND US NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY…HERE COME SALFORD COUNCIL SPIES AND UNDERCOVER AGENTS

While global debates rage over the gathering of citizens' private data, few people are aware that local councils, including Salford, have powers of covert surveillance and the collection of communications data.

The last figures available show that Salford Council was the 11th largest user of these spying techniques in the country. And, in sinister twist, the Council can spy on its community, not only to prevent crime but also to `prevent disorder'

Full details here…


GCHQ? US National Security Agency? The media has been full of stories about how the British and American Government are spying on their own citizens. But few people are aware that local councils, including Salford, have vast powers to spy on communities.

Salford Council's draft guidance to its own staff on the use of such powers read like something out of James Bond, full of talk about `Covert Human Intelligence Sources', `Acquisition of Communications Data' and `Collateral Intrusion'

The Council has powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, or RIPA, which can cast aside anyone's human rights "in certain circumstances" to further the "preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder". Nowhere does it give a definition of what "preventing disorder" actually means – it could include anti cuts campaigners who have been occupying housing offices and the Salford Council chamber, for all we know.

The document describes surveillance as including "Monitoring, observing, listening to persons, watching or following their movements, listening to their conversations and other such activities or communications" and "Recording anything mentioned above in the course of authorised surveillance".

It breaks down its surveillance methods into `overt' and `covert'…and helpfully defines `covert surveillance' as being "carried out in a manner calculated to ensure that the person subject to the surveillance is unaware of it taking place".

This includes directing CCTV cameras "to observe particular individual(s)", "a hidden camera or other recording device" and "the use of a 'covert human intelligence source' ('CHIS')".

The document defines a CHIS as "Someone who establishes or maintains a personal or other relationship for the covert purpose of helping the covert use of the relationship to obtain information" – and further defines them as "undercover agents".
 
Salford Council can also use, what it calls the `Acquisition of Communications Data' as part of "preventing or detecting crime or for preventing disorder".

The document defines `Communication Data as "any traffic or any information that is or has been sent over a telecommunications system or postal system, together with information about the use of the system made by any person".

Using RIPA powers S22, Salford Council can "compel a Communications Service Provider to obtain and disclose, or just disclose Communications Data in their possession"…

The document adds: "Notices/authorities issued under S22 compelling disclosure of Communications Data are only valid for one month, but can be renewed for subsequent periods of one month, at any time".

En route to obtaining information on its citizens, Salford Council accepts that there will be "Collateral Intrusion", or "intrusion into the privacy of persons other than those who are directly the subjects of the investigation or operation". It advises that the "invasion of third parties' privacy should, so far as is possible, be minimised".

Within the RIPA rules, Salford Council cannot interfere directly with private property, nor can it plant "a listening or other electronic device (bug) or camera in a person's home or in/on their private vehicle/person".

The guidance also warns against using tracking tracking devices on vehicles: however, it can use a tracking device on a skip "provided that the tracking device is disguised as refuse and is not physically attached/affixed to the skip".

RIPA powers can be carried out by staff either directly employed by Salford Council, or "external agencies working for the City Council". Previously Salford Council didn't need anyone but a `senior officer' to give the go ahead for these surveillance methods – but the incoming government, recognising that it could be a `snoopers charter', changed the law so that a magistrate now has to sign a RIPA order.

The draft Salford Council RIPA document with advice to staff on surveillance methods was issued in 2009. Three years later, in August 2012, Big Brother Watch produced a report which showed that Salford Council had made 143 uses of RIPA between 2008 and 2011, the eleventh highest use of such powers by a local authority in the country

RIPA powers were used only once for benefit fraud, twice for `environmental protection', three times in relation to licensing, ten times in relation to trading standards and a whopping 127 times for anti-social behaviour. Salford Council refused to disclose the outcomes of the surveillance, under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Anti-social behaviour comes under "preventing disorder", which could potentially be used to spy on those campaigning against Salford Council cuts or any other form of social protest.

Regarding Salford Council's more recent use of RIPA powers, the Salford Star is about to put in a Freedom of Information request – although its officers probably already know this…

concerned parent wrote
at 09:20:01 on 04 January 2015
I have been made aware of a City West "legal" document that has attempted to create a "serious criminal gang" out of a bunch of mates.There was mention of something that "may have been a rifle",no GMP involvement or investigation,just the names of the boys that he met and talked to in a back garden.Accusations of bags being used for "drug" carrying and no investigation of named persons.I have heard of a protestor being victimised by "neighbours",GMP and City West combined,all proved false .... I am also aware of 100's of false arrests in the city and nothing said in The Local press apart from this Honourable publication ... Time to keep a close eye on their "Procedures" ....
 
wrote
at 12:25:33 on 14 June 2013
MORE PROOF OF THE CORRUPTION AT THE ROOT OF THIS ROTTON SOCIETY
 
Mike Skeffington wrote
at 17:17:08 on 13 June 2013
An excellent and very disturbing article. It's a pity these methods aren't used more often against MPs and councillors, they've been ripping us off and making deals to line their own pockets for years and they'll continue to do so. Using covert means and intelligence gathering to prevent serious crime is one thing but, as we have seen all too often, using it to monitor people's movements, to eavesdrop on conversations which may be personal and intimate is quite another. These methods have been widely used over the years by the British government the US and Russia, to name a few for purely political reasons. We only have to look at the 'black lists' compiled by building firms, with the full knowledge and collusion of the British government, which still goes on, to realise the implications of using such methods and the depths to which the powers that be will sink to assert their influence.
 
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