UK: More questions than answers raised by official report on undercover policing in Scotland

Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

More questions than answers raised by official report on undercover policing in Scotland
Follow us: | | Tweet

A report published today by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS) says that there is "no evidence" that officers from Police Scotland "infilitrated social justice campaigns", and that the inspectorate "believes" that between 1997 and 2007 the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) deployed 11 undercover officers to the country, while the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) deployed nine. The review does not suggest that there were any issues with these deployments - a view that has been questioned by campaigners.

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland(pdf)

The report has been published a number of months after it was completed - in November 2017 - a matter that has been criticised by campaigners seeking the truth about police infilitration of campaign groups. However, the content of the report is likely to cause greater disquiet than the publication date.

According to the report, Police Scotland (which has been in existence since 2013 and unified previously seperate regional police forces) has carried out 50 undercover operations, but there was "no evidence that undercover advanced officers (UCA) from Police Scotland had infiltrated social justice campaigns or that officers had operated outwith the parameters of the authorisation."


"[B]etween 1997 and 2007, the SDS [which was run out of Scotland Yard] deployed eleven (11) undercover officers to Scotland. This included six (6) SDS undercover officers deployed in support of the Scottish policing operation for the G8 Summit during July 2005. Our conclusions in relation to SDS deployments are based on the examination of SDS records held by Operation Herne, which is an active investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service into the disbanded SDS, which stretches back some forty years."

The HMICS report says that: "From the records held by Operation Herne it does not appear that Scottish police forces were sighted on these deployments" - that is, they were not told about them. This does not appear to be a problem for the report's authors.

Scottish justice secretary Michael Matheson has said that there will be no inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland. The Public Interest Law Unit, which is continuing its pursuit of a judicial review into the authorities' failure to extend the scope of the Undercover Policing Inquiry to Scotland, said in a press release (pdf) that:

"The announcement today, not to call a public inquiry in Scotland is extremely disappointing. We believe it is one which may not be backed up by the law."

Furthermore: "The report from the HMCIS only scratches the surface of the extent of undercover political policing in Scotland."

The SDS was established in 1968 - its work "stretches back some forty years". The report does not say why it has only examined the period from 1997 to 2007. Elsewhere, it states:

"Our analysis covered the sixteen years since the introduction of both RIP(S)A and RIPA. In practical terms, this represents the period from 1 October 2000 until 31 December 2016."

As regards the NPOIU, the report says that "Mark Kennedy accounts for the majority of NPOIU deployments to Scotland and between 2004 and 2010 visited Scotland on at least seventeen (17) occasions with multiple activities during each visit."

Peter Salmon, a campaigner on undercover policing issues, noted a number of shortcomings with the report on Twitter, arguing that "police investigating police has yet again lead to a #spycops whitewash."

He said:

"It brushes over the facts, including that much of the visits involved maintaining sexual relationships with those they targeted.

It fails to answer the basic question of authorisiation of said visits, or even what prior notification was provided to Scottish forces about those visits was provided.

Careful use of the phrase 'Scottish police not sighted' in relation to such visits is deliberately obfuscating; it doesnt mean that the visits were not political policing in nature and included targeting of Scottish campaigns. Likewise, no investigation of inappropriate sexual relationships or the risk of miscarriages of justice arising from the deployments. Mention of legend-building, etc. covers up that campaigners were being deceived in relationships as part of this."

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland(pdf)

And: Ten Things We Now Know about Undercover Policing in Scotland (Bella Caledonia, link):

"Today the Chief Constable Phil Gormley resigned. We don’t know whether it was to do with the publication of the Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland... or the catalogue of other complaints against him. Or if it was to do with the announcement that there will or won’t be a public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland, in line with the investigation in England, expected this afternoon. But we do now that spycops were active in Scotland and the Scottish police played no small part. We do know that the officer who oversaw the NPOIU from 2005 to 2007 was the Chief Constable of Scotland: Phil Gormley."

Search our database for more articles and information or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates from Statewatch News Online.

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error