Saturday, 30 March 2013

Caerphilly Council: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? i

Jaxxland have  been reminding us  otg the continuing row (or rather lack of it) on  the fact that Caerphilly Council  have been putting employees under surveillance. 

The information comes from disclosures by Big Brother Watch  and then presented as a scoop by Wales on Sunday and the Wasting Mule,

BBW used d FOI enquiries which estimatethat £3.9 million has been spent by public bodies over the last two years on paying private investigators for surveillance work. The civil liberties group reports a growing use of private investigators by local and public authorities, particularly the number of times they are used without RIPA authorisation (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act).

One of these four Councils  turned out to be Caerphilly.

Some might argue that there's nothing wrong indeed that councils are making sure that Staff are not misusing their positions or taking paid sick leave for instance when they are perfectly healthy.

But it appears  be that Caerphilly went too far and broke the rules.

A total of 29 organisations, 27 councils, one public authority and one government department, the Department for Transport paid private firms to undertake surveillance
The used powers under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in the years 2010/11 and 2011/12
But, 14 organisations - 10 councils and four public authorities - paid private firms to undertake surveillance that was not covered by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, making it potentially illegal
Two public authorities and two councils paid other public bodies to spy on their behalf at a cost of £7,600
Four councils - Caerphilly, Dudley, Leicestershire and York - used private investigators to monitor their own staff

As Jaxxland poiints out there fact that the alleged abuse if power by Caerphilly also happened under the previous Plaid led  administration means that there muted cries of outrage from councilors on the council. 

One surprising factor in this that though the Unions were aware of this and the mule tells us that  at least one  of, two the workers who were kept under surveillance are pursuing legal action against the authority, claiming it has failed in its duty of care towards them. it was exposed earlier by the GMB and others

Steven Davis, 41, and Jonathon Powell, 37, both of Blackwood, are being backed by the GMB union, which says it has been concerned about the council’s “spying” activities for at least three years.
The two men worked as a gully and drain-cleaning crew in the Blackwood area. They say they were “shocked and appalled” to discover that they had been targeted for surveillance over five days in May and June 2011.

Perhaps one question is who actually were aware of this policy?

We also need to know whether the surveillance actually uncovered any wrong doing . If it was opened it could be claimed it was acting as a deterrent

But if it was in secret and staff were unaware of its existence and it did not uncover any wrong doing of significance  then legal or not it may be a waste of taxpayer money.

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