New undercover guidelines contain absurd get-out-clause

The College of Policing published a draft ‘Authorised Professional Practice’ for Undercover Police. This is the first time that such Guidelines have been published, and it is welcome as previously the world of undercover policing has been completely opaque. It should be recognised, however, that  they have been forced to publish it by huge pressure for change from people affected by undercover infiltration, and the public at large. standwus-icon

Its contents are not hugely reassuring. Positively, they do state that intimate sexual relationships will never be authorised or used as a tactic:

“It is never acceptable for a UCO (undercover officer) to form an intimate sexual relationship with those they are employed to infiltrate and target or may encounter during their deployment. This conduct will never be authorised, nor must it ever be used as a tactic of a deployment.”

However they go on to give themselves an unnecessary and absurd get-out-clause, suggesting it is ok for an officer to have sex if his life is being threatened, or similar:

”If a UCO engages in unauthorised sexual activity for whatever reason (for example, they perceive an immediate threat to themselves and/or others if they do not do so) this activity will be restricted to the minimum conduct necessary to mitigate the threat. In such extreme circumstances UCOs must record and report this to the cover officer at the earliest opportunity. The authorising officer will be informed immediately and the circumstances investigated for welfare and training purposes, potential breaches of discipline or criminal offenses and to allow an appraisal of the operation.”

There is no need for this get-out-clause. It suggests there is enough grey area that officers just need to find themselves an excuse for committing these abuses. It risks enabling these abuses to continue.

It is also essential that these guidelines are not seen as enough. Many of the women, deceived by undercover officers into intimate sexual relationships, see the practice as tantamount to rape. The psychological abuse that ensues from it is devastating, and the police themselves have admitted it is an abuse of human rights. It therefore should be outlawed in legal statute. Voluntary guidelines like these are not enough. The police have shown that they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. The absurd get out clause in these voluntary guidelines makes it all the more important to have it written in legislation. The infiltration of social justice movements and abusive relationships with female activists over many years show clearly we cannot trust their judgement on what is proportionate and necessary.

Outlawing relationships in statute would mean amending the regulatory power act, but actually we would like to see it completely rewritten. Legislation needs to prevent undercover policing abusing human rights. People have the right to a private and family life. They have the right to be free from degrading and inhuman treatment. There needs to be legislation to prevent this political policing, aiming to silence dissent, and to reinstate people’s right to freedom of expression, and of assembly and association.

These guidelines are in draft form, and they invite you to comment on them. Tell them to get rid of the get-out-clause, and to outlaw this behaviour in legal statute!

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Police continue to stall in Undercover relationships case

On Tuesday 7th June, a legal case over undercover police relationships was in the High Court. It was the latest battle in a four year campaign to hold the police to account, and in it the police continued to try to stall these civil proceedings and avoid disclosing evidence. The claimants, two women and a man [1], are suing The Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers over sexual abuse committed by an undercover police officer in Cardiff – “Marco Jacobs”. [2]Marco_Jacobs

Significantly, the Police backed down from asserting a blanket “Neither confirm nor deny” policy (NCND) to resist disclosing documents relevant to the case, and have now been directed by the court to apply by 23rd September 2016, if they wish, to withhold disclosing documents on the ground that it would damage the public interest.

Despite having very publicly apologised to 8 women for such deceitful long-term intimate relationships and abuses, Police continued their stalling tactics in this case, attempting to put back the timetable to trial as far as possible. This found no favour with Master Davison, nor did their shabby attempt to compel the Claimants to disclose their medical records and endure examination by their psychiatrist before the Police had given evidence.

It is likely that there will now be a hearing in the Autumn on the Police’s disclosure of evidence and public interest immunity, the trial is now set to take place around March 2017.

“Though the abandonment of the false defence of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ is to be welcomed, the request for claimants to disclose medical records before the release of any police evidence whatsoever, illustrates how Police continue to try to avoid being held to account” – Tom Fowler, 3rd claimant

“It beggars belief, that after five years, and despite hand-wringing public assertions that sexual relationships are an abuse and cannot be authorised as a police tactic, the Defendants have continued to bob and weave in this litigation in reliance on technicalities and police procedure.  Jules Carey, Solicitor for the three.

NOTES:

  1. AJA, ARB, & Thomas Fowler (Claimants) -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis,  Chief Constable of South Wales Police, & Association of Chief Police Officers (Defendants)
  1. The Undercover Officer spent 5 years infiltrating anti-capitalist, anarchist, environmental, animal rights and other campaign groups, developing a number of close personal relationships, and in common with several other undercover police who have been exposed, engaged in the sexual abuse of a number of his targets.
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Solidarity picket demanding police disclose evidence

After the success of our main case, where the women won an apology from the Met Police, and the Police withdrew their defence, we are now supporting other people who have been affected by the relationships with undercover police, through legal action against the Police, and through the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. These include the following people from the Cardiff Anarchist Network, we are hoping you will support at their demo outside their court hearing on Tuesday 7th June.

Solidarity Picket with people affected by relationships with undercover police
11am Tues 7th June, Royal Courts of Justice

Marco_JacobsFollowing the infiltration of Cardiff Anarchist Network by an Undercover Police Officer calling himself “Marco Jacobs” a number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account.

Since they first filed an application in court, both sets of Police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice, giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence of all aspects of Officer Jacobs deployment.

At 12noon on Tuesday 7th June there will be a Case Management Hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Join us in a Solidarity picket of the court before the hearing starts at 11am.

Can’t make the picket?
Share our social media messages, or make your own to show your support.

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