It’s farewell, then, to Alison Hurley “Burley” Bristol City Council’s Director for Education and Skills, responsible for SEND in Bristol. Alison arrived at the back end of 2019 and departs with zero improvement in SEND and an expanded bank account. What was the point?
As Alison scarpers, a persistent rumour follows her out of the door. Namely that her department has been collecting information about some SEND parents and activists
from the internet and social media. This information has then been shared with council officers and others.
Let’s hope this is an unfounded rumour as such covert surveillance of parents is unlawful! Covert surveillance by councils requires authorisation under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). And, since The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, local authorities can’t authorise the use of RIPA. Instead it requires a magistrate’s approval.
RIPA states that council’s can only collect and record information for ‘the purpose of
preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder’ and other narrow reasons
such as ‘in the interests of national security’. How does this apply to parents moaning
about the council on social media?
Moreover, the ‘Covert Surveillance and Property Interference Revised Code of Practice
2018′ says, “If the study of an individual’s online presence becomes persistent, or where material obtained from any check is to be extracted and recorded and may engage privacy considerations, RIPA authorisations may need to be considered.”
But, if you can only get RIPA authorisation for ‘the purpose of preventing or detecting
crime or of preventing disorder’ and Ms Hurley has allowed personal information from parents to be studied, extracted, recorded and distributed, she has probably broken the law.
Well done for protecting SEND parents’ basic freedoms Alison, you revolting Nazi arsehole.