Friday, 11 April 2008

Council spies on family to prevent 'cheating'

Is it a case of Big Brother overstepping the mark? Or is a council - which suspects parents of cheating to get children to the school of their choice - justified in carrying out covert surveillance operations?

Today Poole council in Dorset has admitted spying on three families suspected of trying to beat the school system. Using new laws passed to track criminals and terrorists they tracked separate families for a number of weeks recording details such as “female and three children enter target vehicle and drive off”.

The council says it acted responsibly and in the best interests of the community but human rights group Liberty called the spying “intrusive”.

So where should the government draw the line? We’ve all heard stories of perfectly healthy people being prosecuted for claiming monetary benefits – is this surveillance any different? Surely the bigger picture the problem of the school catchment system – would families consider bending the rules if good schools were easier to come by?

One thing for sure is that it caused much debate in the newsroom and on the web. So what do you think?

Watch the lunch time news report on the story.

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