Anti-terror law used to snoop on fishermen


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Mar 5, 2006
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A council which used anti-terrorism powers to check whether a child lived within a school's catchment area has used the same law to spy on fishermen, it has emerged.

Poole council used a covert surveillance team to gather evidence of shellfish being illegally gathered in Poole Harbour, Dorset.

The snooping was carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which was originally intended for use in the fight against crime and terrorism but which has been used by some councils to clamp down on such minor offences as dog fouling.

Last month, officials in Poole authorised a two-week spying mission against Jenny Paton and her partner Tim Joyce, who were wrongly accused of lying on a school application form.

The council had received a tip-off that they had given a false address to gain a school place for their three-year-old child while living outside the catchment area.

The Telegraph later revealed that the Act was being used to mount more than 1,000 covert surveillance operations each month.

Poole council confirmed that it used the Act for four spying missions on fishermen. Harvesting harbour shellfish is banned because of pollution.

The council said it had carried out surveillance on 17 occasions under the Act since 2005.

The powers have been used to detect under-age alcohol sales, to find out who damaged a barrier, who vandalised a door entry system, detect neighbourhood nuisance and anti-social behaviour, substantiate benefit claims and monitor suspected drug dealers.

When Ripa was passed in 2000, only nine organisations, including the police and security services, were allowed to use it but that number has risen to 792, including 474 councils.

Tim Martin, head of legal services at Poole council, said: "In many cases, the council has used these powers to respond to residents' concerns".

Illegal shellfish dredging could harm conservation of stocks in the harbour and present a public health risk if the catch was not fit for consumption, he said.

By Gordon Rayner


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Jul 5, 2005
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hardly terrorism tho is it

tho one has to wonder why they are conserving stocks if they arent fit for consumption?