Mission creep has also infected RIPA the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to epidemic levels. Intended as an anti-terrorist and anti serious crime measure to be used by the police and security service, its use has spread from monitoring terrorists suspects, fraudsters and stalkers to dog fouling, littering, people on the sick, and lying about addresses for schools admissions etc etc. The rot started when Home Secretary David Blunkett extended the Act’s powers to councils and the like in 2003, resulting in an increase in applications to use it from 9 in 2000 to 792 this year, including 474 from councils, according to a pretty full Wikipedia account. Now, fearing public uproar, the councils’ representative body has called a halt. A neat distinction is made by Alice Miles in the Times between the open use of CCTV and secret snooping. The public don’t mind the former but loathe the latter, it seems.
RIPA applies to NI of course and there are lots of web entries about the rules for its use; but I can’t find any claims like those above. Do tell, if you’ve been subject to the snooper’s charter specifically under RIPA.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London