Undercover policing needs overhaul, say MPs

By Laura Moulden

Undercover policing in the UK requires a “root and branch” overhaul, MPs have warned today (March 1st).

The Home Affairs Committee has called for a fundamental review of the regulations governing operations by undercover police in its interim report on the matter.

According to the document, an “unsatisfactory degree of ambiguity” currently surrounds the legal framework administrating such programmes and fails to provide sufficient protection to individuals affected during the course of investigations.

Committee chair Keith Vaz MP claimed the group was unhappy with current legislation on undercover police operations.

“The impact of the conduct of undercover officers on the women with whom they had relationships has been devastating, and it represents a wholly improper degree of intrusion by the state into the lives of individuals,” he said.

Mr Vaz went on to brand the practice of undercover officers using the identities of dead infants as cover stories as “ghoulish and disrespectful”.

“We heard of one case where a bereaved family might have come face-to-face with a woman who believed that their dead child was her former partner,” he added.

The Committee went on to criticise Operation Herne, which has been investigating the administration of these operations, noting that despite accruing more than £1 million in costs, no arrests have yet been made.

In 2011, a number of allegations on the conduct of undercover police officers came to light, with several standing accused of engaging in long-term relationships with members of the groups they had infiltrated.

During the course of one investigation, an officer reportedly fathered a child before disappearing.

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