Watchdog to examine tactics of undercover Met police officers

The activities of the Metropolitan Police are to be investigated. Picture: AP
The activities of the Metropolitan Police are to be investigated. Picture: AP
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The controversial activities of operatives working for the Metropolitan Police are to be investigated as part of a review of undercover policing, it has been confirmed.

Announcing the terms of reference for its work yesterday, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) said it would look at the work of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad – as well as the now defunct Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency – dating back as far as 2000.

Undercover operatives working for the Metropolitan Police, including notorious officer Mark Kennedy, are known to have spied on political activists in Scotland.

In 2015, the Metropolitan Police issued an “unreserved apology” to seven women deceived into having relationships with undercover officers, including Kennedy.

The Scottish Government set up the HMICS review last year after the Home Office refused a request to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry led by Sir Christopher Pitchford north of the Border.

Derek Penman, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, said: “To maintain public confidence in policing, the tactics employed in undercover operations must be lawful, proportionate and necessary. They must also be subject to appropriate governance and oversight and police officers engaged in this specialist area of policing must comply with the law as well as the associated codes of practice.

“Our report will provide assurance on whether undercover police operations are operating effectively and efficiently within Scotland, as well as assessing the contribution they make to public safety.”

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Covert policing techniques play an important part in the way we keep our communities safe and can assist in a wide range of investigations and inquiries.

“Police Scotland welcomes this review and will fully co-operate with the HMICS review to ensure that public confidence in the policing service we deliver remains high.”

Jason Kirkpatrick, a campaigner who has been granted “core participant” status by the English inquiry, said victims had little faith the HMICS review would get to the truth.

He said: “Twenty-four of us who were targeted in Scotland by these undercover police and have been given core participant status by Pitchford have respectfully requested to be included in a proper Scottish independent inquiry.

“Yet no-one even bothered to contact us about (the review). This review looks like a further example of the police policing themselves.”