Police Scotland covert practices `used effectively`, HMICS report says
The use of covert officers in Scotland is a legitimate policing tactic rather than a widespread practice, a long-awaited report has concluded.
The use of covert officers in Scotland is a legitimate policing tactic rather than a widespread practice, a long-awaited report has concluded. Her Majesty`s Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) said undercover officers had not infiltrated social justice campaigns being used effectively to tackle serious crime. The HMICS study was commissioned amid concern about the activities of undercover officers south of the Border. In 2015, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) issued an “unreserved apology” to a number of women after revelations that undercover officers had formed intimate relationships with social justice and environmental campaigners, among whom they had infiltrated with at least one fathering a child. The review was set up in 2016 after then Home Secretary Theresa May commissioned the Pitchford inquiry to examine the revelations but refused to extend its remit to Scotland. The HMICS report concluded that Police Scotland undercover officers had been well regulated in the 423 operations they had been involved in since 2000. It said: “The use of undercover officers is a legitimate policing tactic and has been used effectively in Scotland. “Operational activity has primarily focused on drug-related offences, child sexual abuse and exploitation, human trafficking and exploitation and serious organised crime.” The report said that all authorisations for the use of undercover officers it had examined fully complied with the regulations and codes of practice. And it added: “There was no evidence that undercover advanced officers from Police Scotland had infiltrated social justice campaigns or that officers had operated out with the parameters of the authorisation. “The extent and scale of undercover deployments in Scotland between 2000 and 2016 demonstrate that the use of undercover policing in Scotland cannot be considered to be widespread.” The report also said the capacity and capability of Police Scotland to carry out undercover operations relating to online crime and serious organised crime was currently “limited” and “needs to be further developed”. Since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013, there have been 50 covert operations carried out by Scottish officers, focusing on drug dealing and child sexual exploitation. HMICS said Mark Kennedy, a member of the now defunct National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), was active in Scotland at various times during 2004 and 2010, including at the 2005 G8 Summit. The HMICS said it believed the NPOIU deployed nine undercover officers to Scotland between 2003 and 2010. The Metropolitan Police Service`s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) deployed 11 undercover officers between 1997 and 2007. The report added: “These were not long-term deployments, generally amounting to no more than a few days and over the course of his confirmed visits to Scotland his average stay was about a week. “Apart from the G8 Summit, which was the main focus of his activity, we consider that there was no routine engagement with Scottish police forces and that the service would have been unsighted on his visits.” But it concluded that the deployment of undercover officers to support the police security operation at the Gleneagles G8 summit was undertaken with the full knowledge, co-operation and the authorisation of Tayside Police. The summit, which was attended by the heads of state of the eight main industrialised nations, was the largest policing operation of its kind ever seen in Scotland. Commenting on the report, HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman said: “I recognise that the use of undercover officers is a legitimate approach in tackling the threats from serious organised crime and terrorism and that the officers who undertake this function voluntarily put themselves forward for the role, often placing themselves in challenging and at times dangerous circumstances. “We have a duty to those officers by ensuring that undercover policing has the o