Headlines: February 24th, 2009

Four out of five people are favourable towards the use of directed surveillance powers in their local area according to research commissioned by the New Local Government Network.

Strongest support comes for using surveillance techniques such as covert video recording to tackle anti-social behaviour, drug-dealing and theft. However the survey found that the public are less favourable towards councils using the technology to check whether residents are putting their bin out on time or living in the right school catchment area. Support for these activities dropped below 1 in 5.

The polling also found strong support for local police to have a greater say in how councils use the powers, with 61 percent of respondents saying that assigning a local police officer to monitor surveillance operations by a local council would make them more favourable towards their council’s use of surveillance powers in general.

The report argues that a new contract of understanding is required between local authorities and their residents to use the powers proportionately and only on issues that have a high priority in the local area. It recommends appointing a senior local police officer to work with the council to decide where action is justified.

The report: Little Brother? Getting the balance right on surveillance powers is available from the NLGN. www.nlgn.org.uk