Christmas Card Campaign

undercoverinyourfamilyWe are inviting all our supporters to send a Christmas card to their MPs and Police & Crime Commissioners this year, and we have written a text for you to put in it. For more information on how to do this go to our Christmas Card campaigns page.

Imagine your MP opening this letter this Christmas – we hope it will make them sit up and think about how they should support the calls for an open and full inquiry into the truth behind the undercover policing scandal. And if they don’t, who are they sitting down with?

“This winter, as you gather around the table with your family, what would you do if one of the people at your table wasn’t who they said they were? What if they were an undercover police officer?

What if they viewed their long-term sexual relationship with you or with a female member of your family as a ‘perk of the job’?  What if they were planning to falsify a nervous breakdown in the coming months, hoping to create a trail of worry and confusion in their wake, for all those who are currently sitting at your table?

What if they’d used the identity of a dead child for their false name and date of birth? Somewhere out there, there’s another family gathering together, still grieving, while unbeknownst to them their loss is being exploited.

What if the officer was handing names of those around the table to an illegal blacklist – meaning that in the coming year someone amongst your nearest and dearest is forced, mysteriously, out of employment and into poverty and anxiety? What would you do then?

And what if the excuse given for all this is something precious, and important, that we should all be able to take for granted: political activity. Normal, everyday, political activity. What would you do then?

What if the ‘political activity’ that prompted this so-called ‘infiltration’ covered every kind of issue and difficulty currently facing society? And particularly, what if it was challenging police corruption? Or police racism? Or police violence – even homicide? What would you do then?

What if the officer wasn’t having to collect information for a prosecution, wasn’t having to conduct proper investigation, but was just ‘intelligence gathering’ for the gratification of their bosses? Or what if there *was* a prosecution, and the officer was present at confidential legal meetings? What if they were prompting people to break the law, or even commit acts of violence?

If you found all this out, wouldn’t you be jaw-droppingly appalled? Wouldn’t you think that it was ESSENTIAL that the police unit be halted, their records secured, and that those responsible for these gross actions be brought to justice? Wouldn’t you feel it was a matter of public urgency that the truth be understood, and that this deeply appalling police culture be challenged and deconstructed?

Yet over the last year – despite all this having actually happened, despite these abuses being dragged into the public eye by those the police have abused the most, despite the profound threat to democracy that the unit’s actions represent – over the last year the police have strenuously attempted to keep their actions hidden in silence.

And the Home Office has backed them.

If you are not making a fuss about this – challenging the Home Office, insisting on disclosure and justice, pushing that the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing be fully effective, then what are you allowing to continue?

If you’re not making a stand, who are you sitting down with?”

 

Save

facebooktwitterlinkedinmailfacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Write to your MP about Home Office support for Police’s request for secrecy

The Home Office has supported the Police’s request for secrecy in the Public Inquiry at the forth coming hearing. We urge you to write to your MP to back the arguments that the Inquiry should stay public, and to make representations to the Secretary of State.

sorrynotenoughBelow is a short and long version of a letter to an MP which you could use to base your letter on. Find the address of your MP here.

 

SHORT VERSION

Dear MP

I am writing to complain in the strongest terms about a submission by the Home Office to the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. The unnecessary submission backed police requests to have the inquiry held almost entirely behind closed doors. I am disgusted that the Home Office backed such a blatant attempt at a cover up, seemingly with no regard to the significant damage done to the victims of undercover policing, and without care for the impact on the fabric of our democracy. As your constituent, I insist that you pass on my concerns to the Secretary of State, and back the Public interest arguments that the Inquiry should stay Public.

For almost fifty years, individuals have been subject to covert policing because of their political views and/or involvement in justice campaigns. This goes to the heart of our democracy and the ability of its citizens to exercise their fundamental human, civil and political rights. Further public concerns include police interference with the democratic process by spying on serving MPs, Ministers, and political, environmental and social justice organisations; deception of the criminal courts leading to miscarriages of justice; officers engaging in sexual relationships, including fathering children, while undercover; spying on families seeking truth and justice over the deaths of loved ones, such as the Lawrences; utilising the identities of deceased children; and aiding the illegal blacklisting of trade union members and political activists.

I look forward to your reply saying you will take action to stop the abuse of the public by undercover units,

Yours sincerely,

 

 

LONG VERSION

Dear MP,

I am writing to complain in the strongest terms about a submission by the Home Office to the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing. The unnecessary submission backed police requests to have the inquiry held almost entirely behind closed doors. I am disgusted that the Home Office backed such a blatant attempt at a cover up, seemingly with no regard to the significant damage done to the victims of undercover policing, and without care for the impact on the fabric of our democracy. As your constituent, I insist that you pass on my concerns to the Secretary of State.

For almost fifty years, individuals have been subject to covert policing because of their political views and/or involvement in justice campaigns. This goes to the heart of our democracy and the ability of its citizens to exercise their fundamental human, civil and political rights. Further public concerns include police interference with the democratic process by spying on serving MPs, Ministers, and political, environmental and social justice organisations; deception of the criminal courts leading to miscarriages of justice; officers engaging in sexual relationships, including fathering children, while undercover; spying on families seeking truth and justice over the deaths of loved ones, such as the Lawrences; utilising the identities of deceased children; and aiding the illegal blacklisting of trade union members and political activists.

The Pitchford Public Inquiry’s terms of reference are to determine what has happened, whether the systems and procedures are adequate, and what recommendations can be made. The Inquiry can only be thorough and reliable if the police evidence is made public.

  • If it hears the evidence from the police in private, the Inquiry has no means of testing that evidence; recent history suggests relying on Police self-disclosure would not command public confidence.
  • Those affected cannot give meaningful, or even any, evidence if they remain in the dark about what took place.
  • Public confidence can only be restored if the public can be confident that the Inquiry has been fully able to identify the nature, extent and causes of past abuse.
  • The public and the victims must not be left feeling that there has been a cover up.

The Public Inquiry hearing takes place on 22 and 23 March, and we can only hope and trust that the Chair makes the right decision. But the stance taken by the Home Office cannot be ignored; the damage has already been done. I therefore ask that you take the following public action, and that you make representations to the Home Secretary to do the same:

  • Back the public interest arguments that the Inquiry should stay public and that restriction orders are only made as an exception to the primary position of open justice.
  • Insist that the cover names of all the officers be released, so that the true extent of the abuses can come to light.
  • Insist that the police extend their apology to all those affected by having intimate and sexual relationships with undercover police (not just the limited number so far).

I look forward to your reply saying you will take action to stop the abuse of the public by undercover units,

Yours sincerely,

facebooktwitterlinkedinmailfacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Statement in Australian Parliament demanding John Dines cease teaching Police in Sydney

Helen Steel has flown to Australian to confront John Dines, an undercover officer in the UK who she was tricked into a two year relationship with. She has tracked him down after years piecing together his real identity. This was revealed today in an exclusive in the Guardian.

She also revealed that he was working teaching Police in Sydney. Helen said “John was part of the … special demonstration squad which spied on trade unionists, anti-racists and environmental campaigners…. I was extremely concerned that he might now be promoting the kind of tactics that have been used on us in the UK…. I felt it was important to come here to expose what happened in the UK in case these discredited tactics are being promoted in other countries.”

As a result of Helen’s work, David Shoebridge, a Greens Member of New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia, read out the following statement in Parliament today. It highlights the abuses committed by John Dines, and calls for him to be removed from his teaching position. (Scroll to the bottom of the statement for a pdf version.)

UK undercover police teaching in Australia

In 1968 a young boy called John Barker, only 8 years old, died from leukaemia. 19 years later an undercover UK police officer called John Dines stole John Barker’s identity.

Using the stolen identity of a dead boy, and a complete lack of principles, John Dines then sought to infiltrate British environmental and left-wing movements. John Dines wasn’t working alone. He was just one of a number of undercover police employed by the UK Special Demonstration Squad using the stolen identities of dead children to infiltrate protest groups.

The SDS was established in 1968 and operated until 2008. Its purpose was to infiltrate left wing groups using undercover police officers, who provided intelligence to MI5. It has been revealed that the SDS used the names of at least 80 dead children to create the false identities for its agents. Many of these agents then entered into long term personal and sexual relationships with protest organisers and activists to gain trust and increase their access to information.

John Dines started attending Greenpeace meetings in 1987 as a member of the squad, using the name of “John Barker”. As part of his undercover activities he, and other members of this squad, entered into close and often intimate relationships with the activists that they were spying on.

In 1990 John Dines entered a serious relationship with activist Helen Steel that continued until 1992 when he simply disappeared. Helen, who is present in the  chamber tonight, spent years searching for Dines. In 2011 Helen was informed that he had been an undercover police officer.

The first case similar to this that came to public attention was portrayed by the police as just being a rogue officer, but this was not an isolated incident.  8 women including Helen, then took legal action against the police as a result of being deceived into relationships with 5 different undercover officers who infiltrated environmental and left-wing movements over a period spanning 25 years, strongly suggesting an institutional practice.  Theirs are not the only cases being taken over these relationships.

There have been a large number of legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Service as a result of the SDS actions. This includes a £425,000 payment to a woman whose child was fathered by undercover police officer Bob Lambert when she was a 22 year old activist. When her child was 2 years old his father vanished, she only found out his real identity 25 years later through reading a newspaper article.

The Metropolitan police now accept this practice was morally and legally offensive. In a public apology issued in November 2015, they said:
“officers, acting undercover whilst seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong”

It is hard to truly understand the impact that this would have on someone’s life. In Helen Steel’s own words:

“I certainly feel violated by what they have done. It’s about power. We didn’t consent, and wouldn’t have consented if we had known who they were. They’ve allowed this to happen in a unit of mainly male officers, in a culture where sexism is undoubtedly at play. Politicians and police officers have tried to justify it on the basis that it’s ‘necessary’, or that we deserved it in some way … The whole thing just demonstrates institutional sexism. The assumption is that, as a woman, you haven’t got the right to make a fully informed decision about who you want a relationship with, or have sex with – and that basically it’s not a problem for police to use women in this way.”

Why am I raising this case in the NSW Parliament? The answer is disturbingly simple. John Dines is now teaching police in Sydney. He is currently attached to Charles Sturt University. Since at least 2012 he has been at the Australian graduate School of Policing & Security at that University, and  is now Course Director for the Mid-Career Training Programme.

This program is intended to provide senior level guidance to police officers. The learning outcomes of the unit include providing students with advanced knowledge in areas including:

  • Identifying and sharing good practice
  • Human Rights
  • Gender Sensitivity

It is offensive in the extreme that John Dines can be involved in teaching these matters to police in this State. This is a man who professionally and systematically abused human rights as a police officer in the UK and showed a culpable lack of gender sensitivity. He has no place teaching police in NSW or in any country that says it respects human rights.

We need to ensure that similar abusive political undercover policing tactics are not replicated here or abroad. This must start with an investigation into whether NSW police have been trained by any officers from these UK units.

As part of the Metropolitan Police’s public apology, a spokesperson said:

“I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. I am aware that money alone cannot compensate the loss of time, their hurt or the feelings of abuse caused by these relationships. […] The Metropolitan Police recognizes that this should never happen again and the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that it does not.”

Was Charles Sturt University aware of John Dines past when they employed him? Are the NSW police aware of the history of this man?

Whatever their knowledge before now, this much is clear, he must cease any involvement with teaching police in this state, before a similar apology is needed by the NSW Police.

PDF of David Shoebridge Statement – Police, Helen Steel and John Dines

facebooktwitterlinkedinmailfacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Terms of Reference published for the Public Inquiry into undercover policing – women’s statement

Theresa May has today made public the Terms of Reference that will guide the upcoming Public Inquiry into undercover policing to be led by Lord Pitchford.

In the last four years the work of campaigners and journalists has exposed numerous shocking revelations about the actions of undercover police units actively involved in infiltrating and undermining environmental and social justice campaigns.

The 8 women bringing the case against the Metropolitan Police have today made a statement about the public inquiry:

“Our attempts to uncover the truth through the courts have been met with determined and at times extremely offensive attempts by the police to avoid any disclosure on these issues. Now is the time for full and frank disclosure for all victims of undercover policing and public scrutiny of the abuses committed by these units. We sincerely hope that the inquiry will prove to have the power and the political will to overcome the obstacles it is likely to face.

Continue reading “Terms of Reference published for the Public Inquiry into undercover policing – women’s statement”

facebooktwitterlinkedinmailfacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

“RIPA still authorises sexual relationships by state agents”

On 11 June 2015, the Government published ‘A question of trust: report of the investigatory powers review‘ by David Anderson Q.C., the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Jenny Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, gave an excellent response to the report during a debate in the House of Lords on 8 July.

In discussing the continued legality of undercover police officers forming intimate relationships, she stated:

Continue reading ““RIPA still authorises sexual relationships by state agents””

facebooktwitterlinkedinmailfacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by A.N.

Up ↑