Return of the Islington bin snoopers

Cllr Greg Foxsmith

Cllr Greg Foxsmith - Credit: Archant

Islington’s bin snoopers could be back with a vengeance as the controversial practice of sifting through residents’ rubbish looks set to be enshrined in town hall policy at a meeting tonight.

The Gazette broke the story of the bin snooers in 2008

The Gazette broke the story of the bin snooers in 2008 - Credit: Archant

The scheme – which goes before Islington Council’s ruling executive – will see experts root through samples of waste collected from all over the borough.

The council says the plan will help provide insights into recycling patterns and the rubbish cannot be traced to individuals and households.

But the document prepared for the meeting also reveals 11 people have been fined for not recycling enough – information the town hall admits was obtained by looking in bins.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “Rather than spend time rummaging through rubbish, perhaps Islington Council should try to make it easier to recycle.

“There’s clearly a risk that personal information and confidential documents may be discovered and if people are going to be fined, then that will require some degree of identification of householders.”

Bin snooping was exposed by the Gazette in 2008 when town hall officers were found to be analysing residents’ rubbish at the waste depot.

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Cllr Greg Foxsmith, the member for environment at the time, said: “I am against it. You can’t have people rifling through our rubbish and looking at private documents we might have thrown away. It’s a despicable invasion of privacy.

“When we were in power and it came to light that officers were doing that, the Labour group went for us and it wasn’t even council policy. Now here they are putting the same thing down in writing in an official document. It’s not the smell of decomposing rubbish in the air, it’s the rank stench of hypocrisy.”

Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Islington Council’s executive member for sustainability said: “We will continue to encourage residents to recycle to help increase our recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste sent to expensive landfill.”