Spycops delay a ‘slap in the face’ to people who suffered undercover police abuses

Spycops protest placard saying 'Police Spies Wreck Lives'

On 20 April, the Undercover Policing Inquiry announced a new delay. And people fighting for justice over the Spycops scandal saw this as yet another insult.

“Intrusive abusive political policing”

The inquiry’s report was originally due in mid-2018. When the deadline approached, however, the plan changed. The public could then expect a redacted version in 2024. But that wasn’t the end of the delays, and the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t help either.

The latest delay has sparked anger among the people whom undercover police targeted over several decades. The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) quoted ‘Jessica’, with whom one undercover officer deceptively entered into a relationship, who called it “another slap in the face”. She added:

this mismanagement just prolongs all our pain.

Another person whom police targeted, Helen Steel, insisted:

It is now more than 10 years since campaigners and whistleblowers exposed the oppressive, sexist and racist actions of these undercover political policing units. …

The huge cost and delays to the Inquiry so far are all a result of an obsessive culture of secrecy.

COPS also explained how:

Significantly, the delayed set of hearings about management would explore who made the decisions about who was targeted for this intrusive abusive political policing, who knew about the sexual relationships of the undercover officers and who knew about the theft of identities of dead children.

The truth about political policing

Between 1968 and 2011, undercover cops spied on over 1,000 political organisations. The vast majority of these were left-wing, including unions, animal rights activists and anti-war campaigners.

In response to the new delay, the Blacklist Support Group said:

Undercover police officers infiltrated our union picket lines, conferences, meetings and safety campaigns. They spied on union members and sexually abused female activists. The intelligence they gathered was shared with big business and illegal blacklisting organisations.

The spycops’ actions were a contributory factor in long term unemployment, family break downs, and in some tragic cases, the suicides of honest construction workers who dared to stand up for basic rights.

It added:

We are bloody fuming. And so should anybody else who has an interest in democracy.

“They used sex with women to gather ‘intelligence’.”

20 April also saw the start of the final hearing of one case against the Metropolitan Police. Kate Wilson’s battle highlights the violation of women’s rights during spying operations. Indeed, the police themselves have accepted that the deceptive sexual relationship in her case marked a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Police Spies Out of Lives explains that the tribunal will hear that such deception “amounts to sexist discrimination by the Metropolitan Police“; and it quotes Wilson as saying:

I am one of many dozens of women deceived into this kind of relationship by deployed undercover police officers. They used sex with women to gather ‘intelligence’. The evidence suggests a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach by senior officers embedded in a culture of misogyny and mission creep. I have no doubt that the police are institutionally sexist.

The police, meanwhile, claimed “the public can have full confidence in undercover policing”:

The ongoing delays to the Undercover Policing Inquiry, however, are yet another reason for the general public to resist government efforts to further empower the police.

Main article image via screenshot