Your Home is not your Castle

Did you realise that almost 20,000 council workers now have the right to enter your home without a warrant or police escort? 

Research has disclosed that the average local authority now has 47 employees who are authorised to enter your private home without a warrant and in some councils there hundreds of these inspectors. 

In a recent admission the Home Office confirmed that there are currently 1043 different laws that permit state inspectors to enter people’s homes or premises.  There are growing concerns that, although many of the laws are there to ensure public order and safety, proper vetting and supervision may not be in place for those authorised to enter private homes.

More than two years ago Gordon Brown pledged to review the power of local councils to enter people’s homes without a warrant. 

Caroline Spelman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, has repeated the Tory promise to abolish council tax inspectors’ right to enter private homes.  Mrs Spelman commented:

“The police need powers to tackle crime, but there is a far weaker case for town halls to have these powers, especially given the abuse of surveillance powers by local authorities.”

Alex Deane, the director of Big Brother Watch, said

“Once, a man’s home was his castle. Today the Big Brother state wants to inspect, regulate and standardise the inside of our homes. Councils are dishing out powers of entry to officers within their council for their own ease, without giving due thought to the public’s right to privacy and the potential for abuse. There needs to be a much closer eye kept on the number of officers granted the right to barge into private premises without a warrant.”

The campaign group also sent Freedom of Information requests to each of the country’s 431 local councils.   316 councils responded and admitted that they employ a total of 14,793 people who are authorised to enter private homes. 

Of the council’s who responded, Northamptonshire county council and Glasgow city council have the highest number of authorised inspectors, each with about 500 per council.  Although, some councils have no authorised inspectors.

The campaign group also claims that among the laws that now give inspectors legal authorisation to enter people’s homes are the right to check energy ratings on refrigerators and whether hedges are too high.  (You couldn’t make this up if you were a member of Monty Python!)

There are growing fears that the number of inspectors may shortly be increased due to the possible revaluation of all the homes in Britain after the next election for the purpose of council tax.  Officials have already begun to plan for the revaluation, which will include entering homes to examine the value of renovations and improvement works that have been carried out. 

Ministers have said that there will be a tightening up on councils’ use of their surveillance powers and are now expected to come under pressure to bring in tougher new rules which allow council workers access to people’s homes without a warrant.