In 2007, "public authorities as a whole, made 519,260 requests for communications data to Communication Service Providers (CSP)," according to the annual report (pdf) from the Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Paul Kennedy. Such "communcations data" include telephone and Internet use records of private individuals. The previous two years averaged less than 350,000 communications data requests.
The Commissioner noted that local officials made "a total of 1,707 requests […] for communications data and the vast majority were for basic subscriber information." However, he said, "Quite a number of local authorities have struggled" to comply with the Commissioner’s Code of Practice for the investigation
of protected electronic information.
There has been increasing scrutiny of local councils’ use of anti-terrorism laws to investigate residents for clearly non-terrorism related offenses, such as benefits claims or enrollment in the correct school for a family’s home address. A separate report (pdf) from the Chief Surveillance Commissioner criticized local councils’ actions. He said some councils displayed "a serious misunderstanding of the concept of proportionality. It is not acceptable, for example, to judge, that because directed surveillance is being conducted from a public place, this automatically renders the activity overt or to assert that an activity is proportionate because it is the only way to further an investigation."
He also said there was "poor oversight" by monitoring officers. "Many authorities do not recognise that they are vulnerable to criticism — and potentially the exclusion of evidence — if activity is conducted without appropriate management or if activity is being conducted in a disproportionate manner." More coverage of these two reports are available here, here, and here.