Mother-of-three says council are using anti-terror laws to install listening devices next door after complaints over …

  • Hannah Roberts told  Harley, 4, Brooklyn, 3, and Milly, 9, were too noisy
  • Mother claims Cornwall Council used anti-terror legislation to spy on her 
  • Listening device put in because of shouting, crying and door banging
  • Cornwall Housing, run by council, denied the recordings were covert

Martin Robinson, Uk Chief Reporter For Mailonline

A mother-of-three is furious after her council installed a listening device next door to record whether her children were too noisy.

Hannah Roberts has been told the sound of Harley, 4, Brooklyn, 3, and Milly, 9, crying, shouting, playing and shutting doors needed to be monitored by Cornwall Council after a series of complaints. 

Miss Roberts, 25, of Bodmin, is considering legal action saying the listening device installed in a neighbouring flat is more suited to police spying on terrorists.

The shop worker believes her human rights and those of her three children have also been breached.

Upset: Hannah Roberts says a local council has used anti-terror legislation to record the noise made by her children Harley, 4, Brooklyn, 3, and Milly, 9, (pictured left to right)

Upset: Hannah Roberts says a local council has used anti-terror legislation to record the noise made by her children Harley, 4, Brooklyn, 3, and Milly, 9, (pictured left to right)

The mother-of-three claims her life had been made a misery by the housing provider, which is continuing to take enforcement action against her.

Cornwall Housing denied the recordings were covert. 

She said: ‘I admit my children do make a noise, like all youngsters do, and my young son does cry at night because I have to rub cream on him as he suffers from severe eczema.


Town halls launched an astonishing 3,000 spying missions on the public every year.

The surveillance operations exploit anti-terror laws but many are targeting minor offences such as flouting the smoking ban, dog fouling and dropping litter.

Council officers have also gone undercover to carry out ‘test purchases’ at local escort agencies.

In other cases, tactics included obtaining phone records and trapping householders putting out rubbish early by using motion-activated cameras on lampposts and inside tin cans.

Families suspected of cheating school catchment area rules have been followed by council ‘spies’.

Civil liberties campaigners said was clear the hugely controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was being abused.

monitoring equipment was installed directly above my boy’s bedroom a day prior to me receiving notification.

‘This is contrary to and in direct breach of RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act), and I contend that Cornwall Housing has breached my right to privacy and I intend to take legal advice on both matters.

‘I was outraged at the first mention of Cornwall Housing using terrorist legislation to justify monitoring the noise of my three-year-old and four-year-old children and consider that Cornwall Housing Ltd has acted illegally and in haste, bypassing procedure and safeguards at will.

‘Its attitude has been unbelievable, to the extent that it contacted social services claiming my children were at risk, but the head teacher of their school sent back a glowing report on their welfare to social services.

‘It’s all been extremely hurtful. The continuing stress and pressure of trying to achieve the impossible, of stopping children making a noise and being set-up to fail has, and is, having a terrible effect on me.’

Cornwall Housing, a company owned by Cornwall Council, must adhere to the Environmental Protection Act when dealing with noise nuisance complaints.

Its own guidelines say noise that is unlikely to warrant action includes sounds of occupation, such as the slamming of doors and noise involving children.

Despite this, Hannah says she was told during a meeting that a device was installed in a neighbouring property directly above her son’s property.

A complaint was subsequently made to social services against Mrs Roberts, claiming her children were at risk, which proved unfounded. 

A spokesman said: ‘While Cornwall Housing is unable to discuss the details of individual cases, our standard practice for gathering evidence after receiving numerous complaints in regards to noise nuisance, and where other avenues may have failed to reach a resolution, is to install a digital recording device into an adjourning property.

‘This recording of evidence is frequently used by ourselves and Cornwall Council Environmental Health.

‘The recordings are not covert as the tenants are made aware that noise monitoring is taking place. Cornwall Housing does not take action against any of our tenants as a result of children crying.’


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