Responsibility for undercover policing
16. In order to ensure that the operational parameters
and practical execution of undercover actions remain within acceptable
limits there will need to be clear authority and oversight for
undercover officers, as well as a renewed legal framework.
17. Oversight for surveillance under the Regulation
of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is provided by the Office of
Surveillance Commissioners, but HMIC found that this oversight
was weak in the case of the NPOIU because there was no expectation
that evidence would need to stand up in court.
HMIC found differences in the training, tactics, review
and integration of different units, rather than a unified set
of standards to govern all undercover operations.
18. NPOIU undercover operations were managed
by the Metropolitan Police until 2006, when responsibility was
transferred to the force where the majority of activity was taking
place in each deployment. However, we note that an ACPO-rank officer
is appointed by each force to oversee adherence to the ACPO National
Code of Conduct for Undercover Officers. In the Metropolitan Police,
the lead officer for undercover policing is Commander Richard
Martin, who took over responsibility from DAC Gallan in December
2012. In the new
landscape of policing, standards for undercover operations for
all police forces are meant to be set by the College of Policing.
However, Alex Marshall, Chief Executive of the College of Policing,
told us that in practice the ACPO business area could report to
the College's Professional Committee, which would be responsible
for the appropriate standards.
19. Standards in undercover
operations are jeopardised by lack of clear lines of responsibility
between ACPO, the NPOIU and the different forces and units involved.
Discrepancies in training, tactics and review between different
undercover units further muddy the waters and risk ambiguity in
what is acceptable conduct for officers working undercover. In
the new landscape of policing, standards in undercover policing
will transfer to the College of Policing. While it is right that
the College should draw on the expertise of chief officers, its
overall responsibility must be unequivocal and it must create
a coherent set of operational instructions that will apply equally
to all units conducting undercover operations, against which officers
and forces can be held to account. We do not think it is acceptable
for ACPO, a private company, to play any continuing role in this.
20 HMIC Report, p 7 Back
Ibid., p 38 Back
Q 157 [DAC Gallan] Back
Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence taken before the Home
Affairs Committee on 12 February 2013, HC (2012-13) 617-iii,
Q 187 Back