Jasper Copping reports:
Councils have used anti-terrorism laws to try to catch people donating goods outside charity shops and to make sure dogs are wearing collars.
The investigations are among those uncovered in a survey by The Sunday Telegraph into the use by town halls of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.
The legislation, originally intended to combat terrorism and serious crime, gives councils the right to place residents and businesses under surveillance, trace telephone and email accounts and even send staff on covert missions. Critics say the findings show local authorities are using the powers needlessly, for minor issues.
Read more in the Telegraph, where Copping lists a number of incidents uncovered in the investigation that will likely strike people as over-reaching use of RIPA.