Inquiry finds undercover police actions were unjustified

  • 29 Jun 2023

Report published by the Undercover Policing Inquiry reveals actions by officers would have been brought to a rapid end had they been publicly known.

An inquiry has found Scotland Yard’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) used intrusive methods as part of police action spying on groups.  Sir John Mitting, chair of the Undercover Policing inquiry has concluded in his report, that tactics by the SDS should have been addressed at the highest levels of the Metropolitan Police Service and Home Office.

Officers obtained personal information and formed close relationships including those sexual in nature. Left-wing groups were targeted as part of operations, with Witting reporting right-wing organisations were not pursued as the unit believed “existing coverage sufficed" and there was  concern "about the risk of violence which such a deployment might pose.”

The report states:

It is a striking feature of the reporting of almost all SDS undercover officers that it contained extensive details about individuals – their political views, personality, working life, relationships with others, and family and private life.

The NUJ has previously called on the inquiry to confirm or deny if undercover policing units and agents were put into media organisations and the NUJ.

Witting explores four key questions about the way intelligence was gathered by police officers and whether means adopted was “a legitimate exercise of police functions.” He states issues arising included the use of deceased children’s identities. Trade unions were also infiltrated by officers, with SDS members accepting positions of responsibility including as branch treasurers and secretaries. Witting highlights “none of these issues appears to have been addressed by senior officers within the MPS or by Home Office officials during this period.”

Jon Savell, Metropolitan Police commander, said:

"We know that enormous distress has been caused, and I want to take this opportunity to reiterate the apologies made to women deceived by officers into sexual relationships, to the families of deceased children whose identities were used by officers, and to those who suffered a miscarriage of justice because of the actions of SDS officers."

Further reports will be published as part of the inquiry.

Access the report. 

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