Do people agree with this and do you think that this should be done on the wirral?
LIVERPOOL council snoops are to go undercover on Facebook and Twitter to try to snare benefit fraudsters and rogue traders.
They say the social networking sites can provide “priceless” information which could lead to convictions and that because such sites are still in their infancy they are not covered by legislation which makes authorities request permission from the courts to investigate.
But the council has been warned by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner that if the undercover officer has any contact other than asking to be a friend in order to see what people are posting it may need permission under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) act.
Officers are also to be given advice that they would need to apply for legal clearance if they wanted to converse with the person, which in law would make the suspect a “covert human intelligence source” – although they would not know they were incriminating themselves.”
Investigators will be schooled in how to concoct “pre-planned cover stories” if their identity is questioned while they are gathering information.
A report going to the council next week states “there is no doubt that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter can provide priceless evidence to services such as the benefit fraud team and Trading Standards.
“For instance, a benefit fraud officer may be able to use them to identify whether an undeclared adult is living at an address where a discount for sole occupancy is being claimed or a Trading Standards officer may be able to obtain names of people involved in the distribution and Sale
of counterfeit goods.”