In preparation for the debate in Parliament this Tuesday, I’ve put together the only public political debates on undercover policing so far.
Green MP Jenny Jones questioned Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh about undercover officers about having sex, relationships with their targets. The occasion was a meeting of the Police and Crime Committee that examines the work of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and investigates issues relating to the performance of the Metropolitan Police Service. It took place on 27 September this year.
Mackey repeated the line from the since-departed policing minister Nick Herbert, suggesting that undercover officers could have sex with an activist, since a complete ban would give the people they were infiltrating a way of testing whether they were working for the police. “It is very hard to write a rule for” that, said Mackey.
@JulesCarey, lawyer involved in the women’s case, tweeted a comment: Herbert said you couldn’t have an absolute ban on spycops sleeping with ‘suspects’ because of a ‘sex test’ to prevent infiltration – but what if an organised criminal gang required a spycop to assault someone as ‘assault test’ ? Would that get police approval? Or indeed a “kill test” rather than an “assault test” – someone answered.
In fact there are two different issues here, being mixed up here. The first is, which infiltration tests should police reasonably take & which shouldn’t they. And the other is that non-consensual sex is never acceptable – as a test or otherwise.
Rob Evans at the Guardian wrote a good summary of the event. Jennie Jones put the undercover debate on Youtube. Watch the official webcast of the meeting to see the authorities struggling to find answers, or read the transcript.
The Telegraph of 14 June 2012 has Herbert’s words on this. And here are the transcripts of Green MP Caroline Lucas questioning the Policing Minister on Undercover practices. This session was focussed on Bob Lambert who has admitted that he had sexual relations (and fathered a child) while being an undercover. Lucas revealed that Lambert had also set fire to one of the three Debenham stores attacked by an Animal Liberation Front group he was infiltrating at the time. More on that later at Secret Manoeuvres.