Demand for public inquiry into activities of undercover police

There are renewed calls for a public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland after new details were published of groups infiltrated by English officers. Picture: John Devlin.
There are renewed calls for a public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland after new details were published of groups infiltrated by English officers. Picture: John Devlin.
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There are renewed calls for a public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland after new details were published of groups infiltrated by English officers.

The Scottish Government has previously ruled out holding an inquiry after the Home Office refused to extend the remit of the Undercover Policing Inquiry in England and Wales to cover Scotland.

According to details published by The Guardian and the Undercover Research Group, English officers infiltrated a range of left-wing protest groups and trade unions, as well as anti-Apartheid and environmental activists.

Earlier this year, a report published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) said the now defunct National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) and the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) had deployed officers to Scotland on a number of occasions between 1997 and 2010.

But the then justice secretary, Michael Matheson, decided against holding a public inquiry into the issue.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay has now lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament calling for the decision not to hold an inquiry to be re-visited.

He said: “More than 200 community groups, trade unions, political activist groups and civil liberties organisations have been identified as targets of undercover policing stings in England by the inquiry so far.

“As these operations begin to enter the public domain in England, victims of the same or similar operations in Scotland are left in the dark due to a gap in the inquiry’s remit.

“Many of these groups who were spied upon had members or branches in Scotland, yet there is no way currently of knowing if they also fell prey to infiltration by undercover officers.

“It is therefore vital that the Scottish Government now creates a parallel public inquiry to ensure victims of undercover policing in Scotland get the answers and justice they deserve.”

Addressing the issue of a separate Scottish inquiry following publication of the HMICS report in February, Mr Matheson said it was neither “necessary or in the public interest”.

He said: “We have seen no evidence of the sort of behaviour by Scottish police officers that led to the establishment of the Undercover Policing Inquiry.”