What's first - our liberties or not being left in the poo?

SHARP-eyed pedestrian Keith Thomas spotted an act of doggy defiance under a lamppost near the Happisburgh Road entrance to North Walsham Memorial Park - right under a notice aimed at preventing dog fouling.

SHARP-eyed pedestrian Keith Thomas spotted an act of doggy defiance under a lamppost near the Happisburgh Road entrance to North Walsham Memorial Park - right under a notice aimed at preventing dog fouling.

He sent me a photo showing how the guilty mutt was cocking a snook at North Norfolk District Council's regulation.

The problem is that some of us aren't quite as eagle-eyed as Mr Thomas and we end up treading in the stuff in residential roads, town centres, on footpaths, in woodlands - it's absolutely everywhere.

It bothers a lot of people, including me, which is why I was in a dilemma over Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's recent announcement of a clampdown on local councils who use anti-terror laws against 'minor' offenders.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) has been widely used by councils up and down the country to justify covert surveillance in a bid to catch all sorts of anti-social citizens, including litterbugs, fly-tippers and owners who don't clear up after their dogs.

North Norfolk District Council has used hidden CCTV cameras in fouling hot-spots to try and catch persistent offenders, with some success.

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There's a libertarian part of me that shivers at the idea of the authorities snooping on us without our knowledge - it's a disturbing invasion of our privacy.

But there's also an utterly fed-up part of me that wants the dog-fouling culprits identified,

taken to court, publicly named and shamed, given the maximum �1,000 fine - and cameras seem a pretty effective way of nabbing them.

Dog fouling turns the places we live and love into ugly, smelly, health hazards. Jacqui Smith may think that's minor and trivial, but I don't.