For the eight women taking out legal action against the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Hogan-Howe’s comments to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 27 November in which he states it is ‘almost inevitable’ that undercover officers will have sex with those they target is both outrageous and alarming. Although claiming not to condone such behaviour as acceptable ‘strategy’, he made no effort to express remorse for the actions of his officers, which have caused serious psychological damage to the women concerned, nor to show compassion for the devastating experiences of the women. The suggestion that ‘boys will be boys’ and are incapable of acting with self restraint towards women in political movements shows institutionally sexist attitudes are prevalent at the very highest levels of the Metropolitan police. Instead Hogan-Howe should be sending a message to his officers that such conduct is not acceptable in any circumstances.
The commissioner’s comments contrast sharply with comments made by the ACPO lead on serious organised crime, Chief Constable Jon Murphy, commented in respect of sexual relationships, last year “It is never acceptable for an undercover officer to behave in that way… It is grossly unprofessional. It is a diversion from what they are there to do. It is morally wrong because people have been put there to do a particular task and people have got trust in them. It is never acceptable under any circumstances … for them to engage in sex with any subject they come into contact with.”
For further information, contact Harriet Wistrich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 911 0166.