Lancashire’s trading standards service has admitted its staff sometimes fake Facebook accounts in a bid to trap persistent offenders.
The admission came as councillors considered a report on the county council’s surveillance activities.
They were told that such action was only taken following repeated warnings about a suspect’s behaviour and “a long way down the line”.
One example provided was when sellers of counterfeit goods persist in selling such items.
Councillors were told permission for such subterfuge would be sought from the relevant county hall manager and magistrates.
Officer Ian Young said the council is due for its triennial(three yearly) inspection from the OSC (Office for Surveillance Commissioners) on February 28.
Councils must act under The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) although this does not apply in some areas such as child protection work. or for example, when an employee on long term sick leave is found to be working elsewhere
Councillors will be asked today to approve updated policies on the use of social media and the internet in investigations, the use of cctv and policies on non-RIPA surveillance.