DORSET Council has given itself permission to spy on you – should the need arise.

The policy, which includes covert surveillance and recording, will have to comply with legislation and be approved by a senior council officer as well as a magistrate.

Councillors on the shadow executive approved the powers at a meeting in Dorchester on Monday evening – similar powers already exist for other councils in Dorset.

Councillors were told there is strict procedures which must comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and that any failure to observe the law could potentially constitute a breach of data protection and human rights legislation – possibly resulting in fines.

The agreement puts in place processes for authorising, recording and reviewing any covert surveillance that is carries out.

The powers are infrequently used, generally only in cases where evidence for prosecution could not be gathered in any other way.

A county council spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that there had not been a single case of the powers being used by the council in the past 12 months.