Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What do you do when the Law becomes an invasive weapon ? Suggestions for repeal, asks Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

RIPSA cctvRegulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 : a good case for repealing an invasive law which is abused daily by local authorities. DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Nick Clegg has called for suggestions from the public on which laws we think invade our freedom too much, to the point they should be considered for repeal. An excellent suggestion from Mr Clegg I urge everyone to take up, considering the raft of anti-terror spying measures implemented over the years which have mostly been used by local councils to spy on residents or indeed in some cases, journalists onto a Council-scandal-scoop …

Feeling some of those laws passed over the years are a little too invasive ? Well, don’t just sit there moaning about it, make your voice heard on the new “Your Freedom” website – before the professions get their oar in ahead of the rest of us :

Your Freedom - Your ideas for your freedom

From the “Your Freedom” website :

“We're working to create a more open and less intrusive society. We want to restore Britain’s traditions of freedom and fairness, and free our society of unnecessary laws and regulations – both for individuals and businesses.

This site gives you the chance to suggest how we can do this. Your ideas will inform government policy and some of your proposals could end up making it into bills we bring before Parliament to change the law.

So if there are any laws or regulations you'd like us to do away with, then first, check if there are any similar ideas here already and then add your comments to it and rate it to move it up the list. If it's not here, then add it! And remember - we want you to suggest ideas for removing laws and regulations, rather than ideas for creating them.”

There are so many invasive laws (passed in the past 13 years) which come to mind personally, one of the most prominent being the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 – you know, the one your local council uses to spy on you when it feels like it or if you have criticised or complained against your local council, its staff or inadequate public services.

Yes, out of experience of investigating cases along the years, I’d say RIP(S)A is definitely one to nominate for the dustbin, because why should local councils have anti-terror spying powers they regularly abuse more often to protect themselves from revelations of scandals or public criticism than actually revealing the imminent terror threat of someone’s pet West Highland White Terrier (wee Jock) cocking his leg against a tree in a public park.

However, as I was saying the use of RIP(S)A has not just been limited to spying on the antics of ‘wee Jock’ … as cases over the years such as the infamous Scottish Borders Miss X rape scandal have shown, where a local authority who did nothing to stop an abuse ordeal of a handicapped victim went onto spy on journalists & [then] opposition politicians who were writing about the case, which you can read more about here : Miss X report passed to procurator-fiscal , here : Vital Miss X file removed, claims MSP and here : Borders social work chief quits ..

You’d have to wonder just how bad a local authority really is when they spend more time targeting journalists & critics than trying to save an abuse victim just a few yards away from Council HQ ….

RIP(S)A is that kind of law where some council official with a chip on their shoulder after being complained against, can .. well .. lie about a member of the public, and have their colleagues in the spying department try to get something on the person who made the complaint in the first place …

For example, a crooked building control official obviously on the take who just passed a plan which financially benefits a local councillor while sweeping planning objections aside, he runs off to his colleagues to use RIP(S)A to spy on the objectors, to keep an eye out for any adverse publicity coming his way … its that kind of law that just begs to be repealed …

So, visit the Your Freedom website, wherever you are in the UK, and put forward some ideas of laws you think should be repealed … after all, if an invasive law in England & Wales gets the chop through Mr Clegg’s campaign, yet the Scottish Government keeps the ‘Scottish version’ of it intact … well, wouldn’t that be a turn up for the books …


Anonymous said...

"after all, if an invasive law in England & Wales gets the chop through Mr Clegg’s campaign, yet the Scottish Government keeps the ‘Scottish version’ of it intact … well, wouldn’t that be a turn up for the books"

Cleverly put!

Anonymous said...

Quite a good idea Mr Cherbi and I think you are right when you say better get our oar in first before the professions and probably big business put their ideas in (which you can bet wont be in the public's best interests !)

Best of luck as always !


Someone already put the topic up on Clegg's site here :


Remove RIPA powers from local government

by southlondoner on July 02, 2010 at 03:23PM

The passing of the RIPA laws allowed councils to use investigatory tactics more appropriate to NorthKorea. What a surprise that they have then made observaions on whether parents do live at an address for school catchment. Have used cameras to check on dustbins out before time. Give people authority and they will ALWAYS abuse that power.

Remove the RIPA powers from local councils, Health Authorities etc.and only allow their use for what was intended. Anti-terror investigations.


Anonymous said...

Of course your readers will have to ask for the repeal of laws which are not reserved to Holyrood although I take your point if there's an equivalent piece of legislation south of the border which is repealed yet left in statute in Scotland there will be room to criticise.

Anonymous said...


Analysis: The law with no limits for the snoops

By James Slack
Last updated at 10:24 PM on 31st October 2008

When it was passed in 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act attracted little public attention.

Those who did take an interest were informed that, far from being a cause for alarm, it would offer greater protection from Big Brother by regulating for the first time spying by the police and the security services.

Yet in only eight years, RIPA has become one of the most powerful tools of the surveillance state, used almost without restraint by councils determined to catch anybody daring to put their rubbish out on the wrong day.

Surveillance society: Councils have exploited laws brought in to protect national security

So how did this occur? Parliamentarians must carry responsibility for allowing the legislation to be drawn far too widely.

Instead of being restricted to matters of 'national security', it also permits spying to 'protect public health' or the 'economic well-being of the UK'.

The criteria could be applied to practically anything of interest to the State.

Second, the Government did not limit RIPA to the police, MI5 and GCHQ.

It covers all 474 local councils in England, every NHS trust and fire service, 139 prisons, the Environment Agency and even Royal Mail.

Given access to these powers, and with little limit on how they could put them to use, it is little surprise councils decided to take advantage.

Yet town halls, too, must take a huge slab of the blame for the controversy over RIPA.

If they had restricted use of the powers to trapping benefit cheats and commercial fly tippers - dumping the likes of asbestos and other toxic waste - there would have been little fuss.

But, as council officials became more familiar with RIPA, they decided to go much further.

Today, they are deploying the legislation to detect dog fouling and litter dropping, and even to enforce school catchment area rules, spying on parents to check they are not lying about where they live.

Town hall tactics range from using undercover officers to spy on people walking their dogs to checking details - such as the time and location - of calls made on mobile phones.

In the last financial year, 154 local authorities made 1,707 requests for communications data under RIPA.

Ministers are, belatedly, waking up to the widespread public alarm at the way RIPA is being manipulated.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, for instance, is insisting that town halls will not be given the right to access our e-mail and Internet communications in the future.

Such a move is being considered for the police and security services but Miss Smith says: '[We are not] going to give local authorities the power to trawl through the database in the interests of investigating lower- level criminality under the spurious cover of counter-terrorist legislation.'

The problem Miss Smith will face as she attempts to introduce her draconian new legislation, is why - given their experiences with RIPA - the public should believe her.

With the world's largest DNA database already in place, CCTV cameras on most street corners and ID cards on the way, voters may decide enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

How about repealing the Scotland Act 1998 ? lol !

Anonymous said...

Jesus ! You brits are mad letting this spying law get passed !

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi.

I worked at the Scottish Parliament during the time of their inquiry into the Miss X Borders Council case.

The effort Scottish Borders Council put in to avoid answering questions was one of the most impressive points of the inquiry where without doubt saving its Departmental heads from tough questions was a greater priority than protecting persons with special needs.

I recall allegations were made by some to the Parliament they had been subjected to surveillance after raising criticisms of the Borders Council's position on several issues involved in the case.You might like to try making a Freedom of Information request in order to find out more as they probably still have the papers at the Parliament.If it can be proved the Council spied on individuals to counter the inquiry I would very much like to see this information in print.

I left Scotland several years ago and now reside in New Zealand.I can assure you I would never trust a Scottish local authority or some opportunistic self publicising msps after my experiences in the Miss X case.