ABOUT EVAW COALITION
End Violence Against Women (EVAW) is a UK-wide coalition campaigning for strategic approaches to all forms of violence against women and girls in the UK. Its vision is a world free from the threat and reality of violence against women and girls. PSOOL is delighted to have recently become a formal member of the coalition. We believe this will strengthen our campaigning, specifically that which focuses on ending the psychological violence against women perpetrated by undercover police officers.
EVAW works to the UN definition of violence against women and girls (VAWG) as “violence directed at a woman because she is a woman or acts of violence which are suffered disproportionately by women”; and places this within a human rights framework that recognises VAWG as a fundamental violation of women’s human rights. EVAW is an independent, feminist, secular and anti-racist space.
WHY WE’VE JOINED
The women involved in Police Spies Out Of Lives (PSOOL), from its inception in 2012, have understood the benefits and power of establishing trusted coalitions with groups and individuals holding shared aims and values. Our collective experience of being spied on and deceived into intimate sexual relationships with undercover police officers was a clear violation of our human rights. By working with EVAW we hope to raise awareness of these violations in order to contribute to a culture of change whereby women are free from state-sponsored psychological and emotional abuse.
Since PSOOL’s work began, institutional sexism and misogyny in the police have become matters of public discourse and concern. By joining with other women and campaigners who have faced discrimination and gendered violence from police, we aim to build even more coherent and persuasive campaigns that have impact on making progressive change to benefit us all.
We demand that women spied on receive DISCLOSURE from the police. This is personal and political. On a personal level the disclosure is necessary for individual women to make sense of their own past and to recover. Politically, disclosure of our files would enable us to expose why and how this abuse of police power happened, how it was considered proportionate, where the authorisations came from, and to ensure these abuses are never to be repeated.
We call for a finding of INSTITUTIONAL SEXISM in the Metropolitan police by the Undercover Policing Inquiry. Alongside others, we contest recent legislation such as the CHIS (CC) Act (which enshrines into law some of the abuses we have experienced), the Police Crime Courts and Sentencing Bill which undermines the right to protest, and the Bill of Rights proposal and the Public Order Bill.
As well as civil litigation, some PSOOL women have pursued criminal test cases against individual officers. These have so far been unsuccessful due to outdated laws on CONSENT. We supported the women bringing this test case which was blocked by the CPS which claimed there is no case to answer. The CPS stated ‘genuine feelings’ on the part of the officers were involved.
Many women involved in PSOOL have been described by the police as ‘collateral damage’, a dehumanising phrase which frames the context of sexual violence we experienced. We did not consent to these relationships and consider them to be sexual assault. We continue to work towards a society where undercover officers initiating sexual relationships with members of the public becomes a criminal offence.
User-led, PSOOL is run by and for women deceived into intimate, sexual relationships with undercover police officers. We provide peer support through regular meetings both as a wider group of women and one to one. These are opportunities to talk through issues relating to specific cases, the public inquiry or simply to share experiences and offer mutual support.
As a campaign organisation, PSOOL offers women affected by undercover police an opportunity to contribute to and participate in campaign initiatives to raise awareness of the violations we suffered to ensure it never happens to other women again. Our fight for truth and justice is ongoing. Please find out how you can support us here.