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Bin spying banned by Government

22nd July 2010 @ 1:01pm – by Audlem Webteam
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We cannot claim the following news was entirely down to yesterday's story – and today's follow up – about bins on Audlem Online but our attention has been drawn to the following on the Daily Mail's website:

Councils were last night ordered to stop conducting secret raids on residents' dustbins – as ministers moved to calm a public outcry over the issue.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman sent a strongly worded letter to the Local Government Association effectively banning councils from conducting covert 'waste audits'.

She warned that the controversial operations may even be against the law.
Mrs Spelman's intervention follows revelations in Tuesday's Daily Mail that 90 councils have carried out secret raids on residents' bins in the past year.

In total, council officials and private contractors rifled through the contents of more than 10,000 families' dustbins.

In her letter yesterday, Mrs Spelman dismissed claims by some councils that the bin raids were given legal cover by guidance from her own department.
She wrote: 'Further to the article in yesterday's Daily Mail, Council Race Spies Rummage Through Your Bins, I would like to remind colleagues in local government that the guidance cited... is now outdated and is no longer current guidance by Defra.'

Some councils even used sophisticated social profiling techniques to match different types of rubbish to different ethnic or social groups. Officials checked supermarket labels, types of unwanted food and even examined the contents of discarded mail.

Mrs Spelman is said to have been 'very concerned' by the raids, which critics have branded 'highly intrusive'.

A Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs source said the practice was likely to be outlawed as part of previously announced moves to ban councils from misusing surveillance powers designed for tackling crime to spy on residents.


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