No bugging in Suffolk say leaders

COUNTY chiefs have today revealed they have never bugged phone calls or e-mails amid fears surrounding surveillance practices.

COUNTY chiefs have today revealed they have never bugged phone calls or e-mails amid fears surrounding surveillance practices.

Following revelations this month that conversations between an MP and constituent were monitored by police, an official report suggested that authorities, including local councils, were launching bugging operations against 1,000 people a day.

Suffolk County Council has moved to deny the claims and a spokeswoman said the authority does not have the power to carry out bugging operations.

She said the council can, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), apply to see subscriber and billing information when investigating or preventing a criminal offence.


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This was the case when, in 2002, the council successfully used communications data to track down a Lithuanian national who had broken anti-rabies laws.

The man brought an uninocculated cat into the country after hitchhiking to the UK from Vilnius however when he was confronted he claimed he bought the animal in Manchester.

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Officers were able to request the man's home telephone details to prove that he was not in Manchester at the time of the apparent purchase.

The spokeswoman said: “This proves how you can use things like phone numbers and details to prove something without divulging any personal or financial information.

“We do not use these methods very often.”

Despite powers such as these, councils cannot get details of the content of any calls or e-mails.

Other public authorities such as the police and intelligence services can access this information.

However councils can also apply to use video or audio surveillance equipment to catch criminals such as fly-tippers, rogue traders and benefit fraudsters.

n. Are people in Suffolk under too much surveillance? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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