New Report, Same Old Whitewash

HMIC logoA massive new report on undercover policing from police satellite body Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary was published yesterday.

As with the huge stack of similar reports on the issue, it gives us quite a few dry facts and criticises some administration but fails to tackle the key, shocking issues.

It reveals that 1,229 officers are trained for undercover work. However the police’s National Undercover Index only lists 568 of them. This ‘renders the database unsuitable to the task for which it was created,’ says the report.

Seven types of deployment are listed, but there is no mention of the political spycops. For a report commissioned as a response to the revelation that the Stephen Lawrence campaign had been spied on, after several years’ groundswell following the exposure of Mark Kennedy in 2010, this is no mere oversight. It’s a dodge.

Campaigning for social justice or for the proper investigation of the death of a loved one due to incompetent or malevolent police is left entirely unmentioned in all 206 pages, unless they somehow count among ‘those who seek to commit serious crimes, eg acts of terrorism’.

The report is only critical of administration, training and support for officers, rather than the impacts on citizens and the sinister intent of certain undercover operations. It essentially saying that a little bit more oversight and authorisation will make everything alright.

The authors find it ‘reassuring’ there is apparently ‘a universal understanding by the undercover officers and those managing them’ that intimate relationships aren’t allowed and ‘there are good safeguards in place’ to prevent it.

But out of the 14 spycops so far exposed, 13 had sexual relations with citizens they spied on. Three had kids. One – Bob Lambert –  became a manager overseeing a new crop of officers who did it. Citizens have not been ‘protected’ from the most complete invasion of privacy that it is possible for the state to enact. They have been subjected to it in such a comprehensive way that it can only be seen as accepted standard practice and strategy.

It shows a staggering amount of gall to even suggest that there is ‘universal acceptance’ of it being wrong and there is therefore no problem.

There are 49 recommendations at the end of the report. None are about the known outrages of these relationships, let alone others such as undermining family justice cases and political campaigns, and the police collusion with illegal corporate activity.

We need a simple law that bans sexual relationships whilst undercover outright. It is already illegal in Germany for spies to have sexual relations in their undercover persona and German society is not suffering because of that restriction. It is needless, inexcusable institutionalised sexism.

But the report tells us that

if society wants the police to identify & apprehend some of its most dangerous criminals, it has to allow individual police officers to “get their hands dirty”.

The report does concede that the ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) policy “is not grounded in legislation” & mustn’t be used if it risks a miscarriage of justice. This is to be welcomed. But as words in isolation, it is meaningless. Police lawyers are obstructing a legal bid for justice by a group of women, saying that NCND is essential.  Those same lawyers also argued that the supposedly safeguarded-from sexual relationships are actually legally authorised. The women’s group has already condemned the new report.

This report is yet another bucket of bitter whitewash written by police and their associates. It insults those who’ve been abused by the undercover officers from the counter-democratic political police units. Beyond that, it insults anyone who believes in the right to make a stand for environmental and social justice.

It is another decoy, papering over deep cracks in a rotten architecture. It must not distract from the need for a full, open, public inquiry that examines each aspect of undercover political policing in detail and takes testimony from all those impacted by it. COPS will continue to campaign for such an inquiry.

We will continue to host events and support those organised by the various groups and individuals who have been targeted. You can support our campaign by coming to those events and getting your trade union, campaigning organisation or other group to affiliate to us.

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