Hounslow Council has defended its use of CCTV after overzealous London officials were rapped for using Big Brother surveillance tactics for trivial offences.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act passed in 2000 gave councils a wide variety of powers to snoop on members of the public including intercepting phone calls, emails and post, as well as using officers to carry out covert surveillance operations to combat terrorism.
Hounslow Council has used RIPA legislation 56 times since it was enacted - including for 'environmental' issues - but claims a senior officer has to be convinced that using it is appropriate in every case.
"An authorisation to use RIPA involves a rigorous process demonstrating the seriousness with which this authority regards these powers," a spokesman said.
"Use of RIPA has been for serious matters concerning anti-social behaviour, for example drug dealing and for related housing and environmental matters.
"We entirely endorse Sir Simon's comments which mirror our approach to the issue of RIPA authorities."
On one occasion this year, a family in Dorset was folowed for several weeks to see if they lived in a school's catchment area while Wyre Council in Lancashire used hidden cameras to catch people who let their dogs foul the streets.