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Safeguarding Privacy in the Home

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 11 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Safeguarding Privacy In The Home

The privacy of the home is under threat through the widespread powers of entry at the disposal of the state, but what efforts are being made to protect our private domain?

The Right to Privacy in the Home

Recent years have seen a heightened government interest in monitoring the behaviour of its citizens with the aid of CCTV and all manner of personal data collection facilities. Surveillance can potentially benefit the populace by helping preserve public safety and security, but it comes at the expense of civil liberties.

The debate about whether it is worth the compromise rages on but something most would agree on is that citizens expect to be free of state intrusion once behind their own front door. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that even the privacy of the home is at threat.

Undue Rights of the State

Unbeknownst to most citizens, there are believed to be over 1200 different reasons why a council official may be permitted to enter a householder’s home without their permission or a warrant. It is also estimated that between 15,000 to 20,000 council officials are able to exercise this power.

Considering the police need a warrant to enter someone’s home and private landlord needs to give written warning if they want to enter one of their own leased properties, it is difficult to comprehend why the council are exempt from such formalities.

Householders can take measures to protect their homes from criminals but there a little they can do to safeguard their privacy from state officials.

Powers of Entry

Granted by Acts of Parliament ‘Powers of entry’ permit officials to enter private properties for all manner of reasons from investigating suspected smuggled goods and unlicensed gambling to checking the height of hedges and for the existence of unregulated hypnotists. The non-payment of a parking ticket is treated as a civil debt and could result a bailiff entering a property to enforce it.

Just as with the surveillance question, many might argue that if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear. But as in the case of the un-paid parking ticket, errors are not uncommon and the potential for abuse is not unknown. The minimal authorisation required could also encourage action on insecure assertions.

It may still be an unlikely scenario for any upstanding citizen but the potential threat is there and as such can still generate considerable unease.

What’s more, whether any powers of entry are ever acted upon or not, many householders would just strongly object to the mere idea that a state official would be legally allowed to gain access to their property without warning.

This is seen as an invasion of privacy and an erosion of rights and liberties that householders have been unable to protect themselves from.

Restoring the Sanctity of Home

It is left to politicians to restore the sanctity of a citizen’s home. Efforts are underway to ensure that the private domain can only be breached with the householder’s permission, or at least with some proper legal authority.

One Conservative peer called for a code of practice to enforce strict limits on entry powers for all cases apart from those involving suspected serious crime or terrorism – essentially cases that are punishable by imprisonment or on the grounds of public safety.

The limits would mean that entry would only be allowed if authorised by a judge or magistrate and if the householder agreed. It has also been proposed that entry is only allowed between the hours of 8am and 6pm midweek and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. By making a warrant necessary for all entries into domestic premises then it would make officials think twice before making an application.

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I need advice really, I'm having trouble with a neighbour who first staryed calls me a F------ C--- Every time he passes me, he stands across the road staring it into my house when my husband is away then I get up the other morning to find my car vandalised, I'm not the only one this person has done this to it's most of the woman in this village I'm now very worried to think what else he will do. The police don't want to know because I have no evidence, most of the people here don't speak to this person because he is drunk and abusive, be pees in the garden and there are children next door to him. He rents the property from a brewery who I have contacted and told them what's going on but they don't want to know. He has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to me car and another neighbours and nothing is being done about it. Please someone tell me where to go next as I'm at my wits end.
Puffin - 11-May-17 @ 9:59 PM
Cari - Your Question:
I shared a house with my friends, we are 6 in total and we moved 4 months ago, but since the first month, our neighbour has always come asking stupid questions, how many people live in the house, what we do for living , where we are from, and it is very annoying, honestly I've living in London for 7 years and this is the first time we have an experience like this, we really don't care what our neighbours do, or where they are from, we respect them, we don't put loud music or do not have bad behaviour but this woman always come with an excuse, asking about our lives and she gets frustrated because my friends do not speak English, today for example the fence in the garden fell down and she came asking why we damage it and how many people is living in the house, we didn't damage the fence it just fell down, we don't use the garden because it is full of grass, she said that she sees many people coming in and out, is that really her problem? I mean neighbours really should care how many people come in and out from the other houses?? we have friends and family that come over occasionally and we are not doing anything wrong when she said that she see people coming in and out makes me think she is checking on us, that's very annoying because we feel harassed , I really would like to know if there I any place where we can complaint.

Our Response:
Firstly try writing her a note - explain your living arrangements and politely suggest that you hope this satisfies her and she will no longer feel the need to continue asking questions. If you have a landlord, you could also try mentioning it to him/her. If you feel this is worthy of further action, you could try a solicitor or the local police.
SaferHouses - 10-Apr-17 @ 2:10 PM
I shared a house with my friends, we are 6 in total and we moved 4 months ago, but since the first month, our neighbour has always come asking stupid questions, how many people live in the house, what we do for living , where we are from, and it is very annoying, honestly I've living in London for 7 years and this is the first time we have an experience like this, we really don't care what our neighbours do, or where they are from, we respect them, we don't put loud music or do not have bad behaviour but this woman always come with an excuse, asking about our lives and she gets frustrated because my friends do not speak English, today for example the fence in the garden fell down and she came asking why we damage it and how many people is living in the house, we didn't damage the fence it just fell down, we don't use the garden because it is full of grass, she said that she sees many people coming in and out, is that really her problem? I mean neighbours really should care how many people come in and out from the other houses?? we have friends and family that come over occasionally and we are not doing anything wrong when she said that she see people coming in and out makes me think she is checking on us, that's very annoying because we feel harassed , I really would like to know if there i any place where we can complaint.
Cari - 7-Apr-17 @ 6:05 PM
Have 15 year old girl that was raped at 9 and again at 13. The nabiour a 45 year old woman clls her fat says she's pregnant and abuses her. She likes to ride her bike and this woman gets the kids to chase and harass her. It's sickening to see she has no cofedence as it is. The old boy up stairs from her is bullied and council only offer to move him or us never them.
andy - 1-Aug-16 @ 5:09 AM
I have lived in a Council property for over 11 years. There has been numerous of complaints phoned, into the council by various neighbours, but one in particular . I am married and my husband has a different surname from his mother, which gave them ammunition against us, as they thought that I was, a single mother living, with the man who, was not my child's father. I have not been a saint either, but it is not as if I can phone up their bank and tell them about their clients conduct. I have found out that this neighbour (on her mother's side) got information which was supposed to be confidential regarding a meeting at stoical services, (who I phoned for help, as I suffered after having my second child, with post natal depression). She made a complaint though not leaving her name, saying that she can hear my husband and I argue and that is how I speak to my children as I was brought up this way. The information that she provided was something that I had spoken to her in confidence about. That was how I knew that it was her, I didn't tell anybody else about my up bringing. So I got records released and confronted her but she denies to the high heavens that it wasn't her and two weeks later I received a letter from her solicitor. The first time we spoke to our neighbours is by phone, they phoned as all the light were put out and told us to shut our dog up or else our dog was let out the back to do his business before bed and she got spoked by a cat we were standing at the back porch, so we knew she was barking but only for a few seconds less, ( now the area we live and town was still going through the troubles elven years ago), so you can only imagine what was going through our heads with a baby at the time. On and off through the years things have been side as they are never settled in their own home and take it out on us instead. It has gotten a very uncomfortable place to live. As they are wanting to move, but can't get their home sold as they are asking far to much for their house and has been on the market for 19 months. So once this information came to light about social services I stopped speaking to them but they would always speak to me. As I am a fully practising Christian I cannot speak to people who have hurt me or my family as I can't lie.
MrsCW - 15-Oct-15 @ 5:03 PM
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