Surveillance powers used on suspected illegal tobacco sellers in Durham

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Surveillance powers have been used twice this year by council snoopers trying to root out illegal tobacco sellers.

Staff from Durham County Council (DCC) used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on seven homes.

Between the start of the year and March 31, trading standards carried out test purchases of ‘illicit tobacco products’ at the properties.

Of these, five were successful and warrants are due to be served ‘in the coming weeks’.

The work was revealed in a report on DCC’s use of the controversial legislation  due to be debated by members of the Corporate Overview and scrutiny Management Board on Friday (April 20) at Durham County Hall.

Local authorities are able to use RIPA to apply to magistrates for permission to carry out covert surveillance and intercept communications.

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service