COVERT surveillance has not been used by Borough of Poole since 2013, it has been confirmed.

The council, which once found itself at the centre of a national media storm over the issue, now keeps a close check on the use of surveillance powers under RIPA- the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Back in 2008 the council caused national outrage when it used the law to spy on a family - including three young children - for three weeks, to determine which school catchment area they were living in.

The story lifted the lid on the scandal of local authorities across the country using RIPA - a law intended to helped fight terrorism and serious crime - to spy on residents over minor issues such as littering and dog fouling. In Poole it was also used to investigate fishermen, under-age alcohol sales and vandalism.

The latest RIPA report set to come before Cabinet next week finds that since 2009 covert surveillance has only been undertaken twice - once in connection with potential unauthorised shellfish dredging, and once in connection with Trading Standards offences.

Tim Martin, head of legal, democratic and strategy services, Borough of Poole, said: “The use of the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act by local authorities across the country has decreased in recent years, and Poole is no exception to this.

"In line with amended legislation it is now necessary for a council to apply for permission from the court to use RIPA. Since 2009 we have sought court orders on two occasions for directed surveillance. In the last two years there have been no occasions where RIPA has been used for directed surveillance.”

There have been no occasions where Borough of Poole has sought court orders to use RIPA and had them refused.

Back in 2010 Borough of Poole issued an apology to spied-on mum Jenny Paton and her family after she successfully took the council to a tribunal over its use of the RIPA act. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, set up to investigate complaints, ruled in the family’s favour finding there not been a proper purpose and it had not been necessary to use surveillance powers. It also found the surveillance breached the family’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. Ms Paton was among those who successfully campaigned for a change in the law.