COUNCIl chiefs in Dundee used covert surveillance powers on more than two dozen occasions last year.
The measure was employed in a bid to catch folk alleged to have been committing offences like parking fraud and drug dealing.
Officers were deployed across the city 29 times to spy on people they suspected of carrying out crimes or anti-social behaviour.
But Marjory Stewart, the local authority’s executive director of corporate services, has insisted that the council doesn’t use its powers to employ undercover agents or informants.
Instead it uses “directed surveillance” which is less intrusive to people’s lives, but still involves them being watched without their knowledge.
She has compiled a report to councillors on the authority’s activity during 2015-16.
All uses of this type of surveillance require the green light from a senior council officer.
During last year, staff were deployed 10 times to use surveillance over noise nuisance.
They were involved in a further nine operations linked to drug dealing. Three of the cases involved harassment, verbal abuse, threats of violence and vandalism.
Trading standards staff used surveillance for the test purchasing of cigarettes on one occasion.
Other cases where surveillance techniques were used included the suspected fraudulent use of a blue badge, “multiple” parking fraud, nuisance behaviour and fraud.
Ms Stewart said: “A number of services within the council occasionally require to carry out covert surveillance — ie persons are placed under observation without them being aware of it.
“These activities occur, for example, within trading standards, the corporate fraud team and, in particular, in the council’s anti-social behaviour team.
“Whenever considering directed surveillance, the council has to balance whether the action is both necessary and proportionate.
“The possible interference in someone’s private life has to be necessary in order to obtain the benefit of the supply of information. If there are other means of obtaining the information without directed surveillance then it would not be appropriate.”