Investigatory powers to spy on residents have been used by a west London council on nearly five times as many occasions as the average council.
Hammersmith and Fulham council has invoked the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) on 44 occasions over the last three financial years according to figures released to getwestlondon under the Freedom of Information Act.
Offences investigated using the powers range from illegally parking using a blue badge to subletting, fraud and drug dealing.
RIPA allows a council to monitor communications data (although not content), set up hidden cameras or employ undercover operatives for the purposes of combating crime.
Given that the population of Hammersmith and Fulham is around 179,000 this means that the council has used the Act 2.46 times for every 10,000 people who live there.
This is nearly five times higher than the average council in England and Wales who has used the spying powers 0.54 times for every 10,000 residents.
In the last three years Kensington and Chelsea Council were found to have used the RIPA powers a total of 20 times; Hounslow executed their investigative powers a total of 14 times; Westminster used RIPA powers seven times and Ealing used the investigatory powers a total of five times.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council primarily used hidden cameras to investigate a range of suspected offences from anti-social behaviour to drug dealing and illegal car parking.
However, on 25 of the 44 occasions that these spying powers were used nobody was caught doing anything wrong.
Councillor Mike Cartwright, Council Cabinet Member for Crime and Antisocial Behaviour said: "We will continue to use every power at our disposal to catch and prosecute criminals, from serious domestic violence cases to drug dealers. And we have one of the most sophisticated CCTV units in the country in order to help keep our residents safe."
RIPA is primarily designed to help detect crime but - due to the fact that its usage is likely to infringe on the suspects right to privacy under the Human Rights Act - it is only to be used as a last resort.
Up until the end of 2012 councils did not have to seek outside approval in order to use the powers outlined in the act.
Instead, all they needed to do was to gain the permission of a senior officer within the council whose job it was to regulate such matters.
However, to combat unnecessary usage and over-usage of the Act by local authorities the Home Office changed the rules at the end of 2012 so that councils had to have their application approved by a Justice of the Peace.
This has caused a huge drop in the number of times that the Act has been used in recent years.
According to the data sent out by councils in response to our FOI, across England and Wales councils used RIPA powers on 1,694 occasions in 2011-12, 1,217 occasions in 2012-13 and 559 occasions in 2013-14.
This means that subsequent to the clamp-down there has been a two-thirds drop in usage when comparing 2011-12 to 2012-13.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council have been contacted for comment.