Who’s snooping through your rubbish?

Kirsty Buchanan, Express |

A NEW breed of bin snoopers is being sent to the council tip to rip through your rubbish, the Sunday Express can reveal.

Guidelines published by waste quango WRAP outline plans for town halls to appoint teams to sift through black bag household waste dumped at recycling centres.

While the practice is designed to weed out items for recycling, it has raised fears that sensitive documents innocently thrown away could be sold by unscrupulous staff to crime gangs.

The startling revelation drew swift condemnation from Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis who accused WRAP of drawing up a blueprint for “invading the privacy of hardworking members of the public”.

The guidelines have been drafted for councils running recycling plants where residents can dump anything from old clothes to metal, garden waste and household rubbish in a series of skips. The authority recycles what it can and sends the rest to landfill.

The WRAP guidelines concede: “Some residents may be sensitive to their waste being segregated by site staff.

“Not all council members will be comfortable with [this policy] because of fears over monitoring residents and privacy.”

Town hall officers, it adds, are “generally supportive” of the practice provided “staff follow appropriate confidentiality and health and safety procedures”. The guidelines are not designed to be prescriptive but as a blueprint for “best practice”, raising concerns that more councils will take up the suggestion for bin snooping.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: “This is a totally unnecessary and disproportionate measure which would invade the privacy of hardworking members of the public.

“For too long Labour allowed the bin police to run riot, punishing people for making innocent mistakes with heavy- handed fines. We have consigned the bin police to the dustbin of history and won’t be allowing an unelected quango to sneakily resurrect them through the back door.”

Identity theft is now a multi-million-pound industry with personal details stolen and traded on the black market.

On average 100,000 people a year have their basic personal or bank details stolen because they throw sensitive mail out with the trash which is then sold to gangs.

Despite campaigns encouraging homeowners to shred sensitive or personal documentation, research suggests 85 per cent of us still throw out personal details.

Nick Pickles, director of civil rights group Big Brother Watch, said: “Rather than paying people to root through rubbish left behind, why not ask people when they are leaving bags if there is anything that can be recycled in them?

“This will allow them to make their own decision on opening bags without putting their privacy at risk.”