Thursday, 7 May 2009


I am emailing to respond to your FOI request. I will repeat your questions with the answers underneath each one.

1 (a) How many Officers and/or other staff of WMBC are authorised to use the powers granted under this Act (RIPA); and who issues such authorisation?

16 are authorised; the Chief Executive issues the authorisation

(b) What are the grades of the staff concerned? By this I mean - how many senior executives; how many senior managers; how many junior managers; how many non-managerial grades; how many temporary contractors; etc. Numbers alone are all that I require, not names or particular job titles.

16 in total - 3 directors, 13 senior managers

(c) On what date was the first individual from WMBC authorised to use the powers granted by RIPA given that authorisation?

October 2002

(d) Are such individuals authorised to delegate any necessary powers to others - whether WMBC employees or otherwise - to actually carry out aspects of investigations (such as physical surveillance, or installing/operating cameras or listening devices, for example)?


(e) Is there a committee, or individual, tasked to exercise oversight on the use of RIPA to ensure it is being used appropriately?

Yes - an officer in the Legal and Democratic Services Department

(f) On what date was the oversight put in place?

October 2002

2. How many investigations, in total, have been carried out by staff or contractors from or for WMBC?

401 since October 2002

3 (a) How many of these investigations were 'Terrorism' related?


(b) Of those investigations not terrorism related, please supply a list of the reasons for each investigation.

All investigations were carried out for either anti-social behaviour or licensing purposes

4 How many investigations have resulted in:

(i) Prosecution through a court of law?

(ii) Issue of a formal caution?

(iii) Issue of a fixed penalty notice?

Under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act, I am refusing to provide this information on the basis that to do so would breach the appropriate limit set down in the FOI Fees Regulations. The Fees Regulations stipulate that the cost limit for dealing with an FOI request is £450, calculated at a total of £25 an hour (i.e. a time limit of 18 hours). In order to provide the information on how many investigations have resulted in one of the above outcomes, we would need to consult information on 401 separate investigations. I estimate that it would take at least 5 minutes to obtain the file for each case and then find out what the outcome of the investigation was. At five minutes per investigation, it would therefore take 33 hours to collate the outcomes of every investigation taken forward since October 2002. On this basis, I am refusing to provide the information.

5 What has been the cost of these investigations ( include the cost of prosecutions in with total cost), and how much has been recovered from prosecutions and fixed penalty notices?

We do not hold this information.

If you are unhappy with any aspect of this response, an independent senior officer will review this decision. Please let me know if you would like to arrange this.

You can also complain to the Information Commissioner, who is the regulator for Freedom of Information. His website is, and his helpline number is 01625 545745. His staff may ask you to exhaust our internal complaints procedure if you choose to complain to his office now.

I've phoned the office of the Information Commissioner, and the refusal is technically within the rules. So how to progress this to find out how many investigations resulted in prosecutions, cautions and/or fixed penalty notices?

You see - 401 investigations can not have been cheap, and surely they cannot all have come to nothing because what a monumental waste of money that would be. I was surprised at the sheer volume of investigations carried out. I suspect officialdom sees everyone as a criminal.

And I do not for a minute accept that the costs of these cases is not recorded somewhere. That's a lot of money to just lose in the general accounts.

Perhaps a councillor could progress this enquiry? Maybe Charles would know what to do - after all, he used to be a councillor here. But that was a long time ago. Peter - you were a councillor a lot more recently; have you any suggestions on how to complete this enquiry? I know you don't like us, but I suspect you dislike them a lot more.

Suggestions from anyone welcome. Write them in as comments to this post.

401 RIPA investigations and not one about terrorism ... which was the reason these laws were brought in, in the first place. Well, so the government said anyway. Those 16 authorised council personnel have more powers now than Chief Constables had ten years ago. They can hire people to watch you; they can pay to have secret cameras set up to watch you; pay to have listening devices installed wherever they think necessary; they can bug your phone calls; monitor your emails; track your internet use. Ten years ago a Chief Constable couldn't even order some of that, and even those things he could order he needed to get a judicial warrant for.

Are we happy that these people can do these things to us - secretly? I'm not.




Andrew said...

Who monitors this? " an officer in the Legal and Democratic Services Department".

So, they investigate over 5 cases a month on average. One item other than "licencing" is anti-social behaviour.... from " an officer in the Legal and DEMOCRATIC SERVICES Department"...

I wonder if people are being spied upon for their political beliefs?


Andrew,how could you suggest such a thing!

red said...

The NAZI SCUM BNP will be stopped spreading their vile and nastiness in Wigan and Leigh. You need to crawl under your stones you NAZI SCUM!

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Ahhh Red, you are so wonderfully loving when you whisper your sweet nothings in our ear.

Such a pity that you never got the 'pre' that usually accompanies such postorgasmic tenderness.

I guess you must have done it all for yourself first eh? Horny handed son of toil and all that stuff?

Leigh, Lancashire Nationalist said...

Yawn.......Hello Mr(R)Ed.

Mr(R)ed...Please enlighten us with what you see as the "vile and nastiness" we spread?

I very much doubt you can, but I may be wrong.

The offer is on the table, you can use this blog for your efforts, I am sure Lanky and Morg wouldn't mind.

Go on Red, give it a go, my old sunshine, put your own political agenda down here and let us see who are the ones spreading vile and nastiness you so speak of.

Anti-gag said...

Welcome back Charles,

I hope both Susan and yourself had a great holiday, and it's good to see you back.

Just before you went away there was a story about a convicted Asian drug dealer, and child rapist, who refused treatment for his TB. As an ex GP I'm sure many readers, like myself, would be interested in your assessment of the risks this man poses both to his fellow prisoners and to the prison officers, and other staff, who have to come into contact with him. Lancaster UAF site did a short piece which said TB was as much a British problem as a imported one, and denied TB had ever been almost eradicated from the UK by the 1960's.

After reading their twisted analysis even I could see it was truly a complete distortion of the truth. They claimed that 50% of TB cases in the UK are British born, and that immigrants develop it after coming to the UK rather than importing it (note the use of the word develop rather than catch). Also of those 50%, who are UK born, how many are Asians who catch it on their visits back to their home country then bring it back to the UK?

Statistics show that 1 person in 9 was born outside the UK, surely then they should make up only 11% of TB case, if there were no correlation between the country of birth and the disease. But on these figure foreign born cases are 8 times that which would be expected if there were no conection.

Could you give us a professional assessment of the risk TB poses to the British public, and the strain immigration puts on the NHS due to this illness. Do immigrants appreciate the importance of completing a full course of antibiotics so as to avoid the disease developing immunity to them, and if not does that reduce their effectiveness for the whole population.

The original story:

Sorry to hit you with this when you've just got home, but I do think it's important, and you are by far the best man we have to comment on it.

Chris Hill