Undercover Officers

Meeting: 
PCC on 2012-10-25
Session date: 
October 25, 2012
Reference: 
2012/0056
Question By: 
Jenny Jones
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Question

I want to ask you some questions about undercover officers, Mr Mackey. I have been asking the Commissioner questions now since June and I finally got a letter on 23 October 2012 marked Confidential and Private. There was absolutely nothing private in there and absolutely nothing confidential. Basically, it was saying it could not answer certain questions of mine because of difficulties in exposing various practices and so on.

I just do not believe that some of my questions are not able to be answered by the MPS and I will give you an example. Under which European or UK human rights and privacy laws do British undercover police operate when they are in the UK, other parts of the EU, or outside of the EU? Surely, you can tell me which bits of law?

Supplementary Questions: 

Answer

Answer for Undercover Officers

Answer for Undercover Officers

Answered By: 
Craig Mackey, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Do you mean you have the answer?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I can give you. Supervision of UK officer

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Why then was I blocked for months on things like

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not know. Supervision of UK officers when they are working abroad is jointly managed by the relevant law enforcement agency in whichever country they are working and local judiciary in the country concerned.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Why could I not have that answer back in June?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not know.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): What is happening at the MPS that anything, when undercover officers are mentioned, that it is automatically blocked?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, that is not fair. I went into some considerable detail with you last time I sat before you in relation to undercover officers.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): I think you will find that the detail was a little bit shaky at times. I will come to that.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): All right. Obviously, I was shaky then on some of the detail, but some of this area is restricted. It is restricted.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): You have just given me that answer in a meeting held in public and yet I could not have it back in June. I still have not had it apart from from you. A letter this week told me I could not have that answer.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): If you are comfortable, outside of here, I will take those issues away for you and find the ones that can be answered and I will get them back to you within seven days.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): I have a list. I will give it to you. Thank you. This is a topical issue, but it does seem to me that there will be a lot of problems in the future presumably on this. You did say last week that criminal misconduct or any of the processes that would happen if officers engaged in criminal acts. You said that at the last meeting, but it is a matter of public record that Mark Kennedy, who was operating for the British police, did commit criminal acts in Germany in particular.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): You are asking me a level of detail. I am not sighted on individual operations that might have taken place overseas.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): My concern is that nobody knows what is going on or, if they do, they are certainly not telling us. Officers who are exposed in this way, I have some sympathy for, because of course they do not only work with domestic extremists, i.e. what I call environmental activists and you call domestic extremists, but at times they are working with gangs and organised crime.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Some very high-risk people.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Very, very tough. Very, very tough life, and I am very sympathetic, but I think the processes in the MPS are just not operating in a way that holds not only the officers themselves to account, but also the supervision of those officers.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): In relation to what has gone on around a particular deployment in Germany, for obvious reasons, I did refer last time to Operation Herne, the Directorate of Professional Standards work that is looking at all of these. I am just going to have to be very, very careful that I do not stray into areas that that might be looking at.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Let me ask again. Is any of that report going to be public?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I do not know until we finish it. I genuinely do not know. I do not know what will be in there and what the scope will be. There may be things that are perfectly acceptable to put in the public domain. There may be other parts of that, exactly for the reasons to which you have alluded around particular operations, that cannot be.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): OK, will you come back and tell us as soon as you have seen that report and whether or not you can tell us anything about it.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): So you will report back on that report. Do you have any idea when it is going to come out?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): It is going to be a long piece of work. As we discussed last time in terms of this, you have asked a number of questions that go back to the era of Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and some of those. That started in 1968. There is a wealth of data and information to look through, so I am not going to commit to a timescale that I am not sure I can keep yet. That is why the scoping work, the range of work is going on.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Can you tell me then: since it started, presumably some information has come through; have you changed your processes?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): How can you be confident that those processes are any better than the previous processes?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): For a number of reasons.. One around learning the lessons around previous processes, but also the office of the Surveillance Commissioner now also, as part of their review of covert policing activity which takes place across police forces, looks at our use of covert human intelligence. There is an oversight process that will look at that and there is are lessons learned and a new guidance document that is there for how we run these.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): What is the MOPAC oversight on this? Are you getting any information? Are you getting any reports?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): In terms of specifically international deployment?

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): No, I was thinking about deployment within Britain.

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): Sorry, I missed the question.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): I am more interested in deployment within Britain.

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): It is an operational matter. It is not something that we would do.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): You do not have any oversight of it. Politically then, who has oversight of what the MPS is doing on this? We do not get the answers, so who is actually getting any answers from the MPS about what is going on?

Joanne McCartney (Chair): Can I say: when the Mark Kennedy case came to light, the MPA agreed that it would have oversight. Given that MOPAC has taken over some of those functions, I would have thought that some of that oversight would have been dealt with.

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): Yes, as we have said previously, there will be oversights via generic oversights. What you are asking is whether there are any specific arrangements around this. Not to date. That does not mean that we will not develop that. We have a specific role in overseeing deployments in that the Chief Executive has to sign off any application to government for that, but I could not speak to specific arrangements in terms of oversight around this particular area of activity, though of course it will be part of our broader oversight role.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Sorry, you have to sign off what government?

Andrew Morley (Interim Chief Executive, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime): In terms of international deployments, under the scheme of delegation, the Chief Executive approves what is known as section 26 requests prior to seeking authorisation from the Home Secretary. We have a role around that, but not in terms of internal deployments.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): I think Len might want to come in on foreign deployments, but I am just very concerned. You see, this is what we have been told again and again by the MPS. It happened with the phone hacking. We ask questions, which prove to be very good questions, and we are told again and again, 'Do not worry about it. We have it sorted now. It is all under control. I cannot tell you about it, because it is restricted and confidential, but it is all all right.' This is the response we get from the MPS. You must understand that some of us have run out of patience with that sort of, 'Run away and play with different toys. The Met's fine'.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, and if that is the impression you have taken from it, that is not the intention at all. If you think there are people who are going to have oversight and look at individual deployments and whether they are yay or nay, that is not going to happen. The processes, absolutely. The systems with things like the Officer Surveillance Commissioner and how the authorisation works, those are the sorts of things you would expect to be in play. I would find it quite strange to bring in a list and say, 'Here we go. We are deploying to the following ...' I cannot see how we could do that. The risks are far too high.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): I have a lot of questions, actually, and it is very unfortunate as you have appeared to be so open that I cannot just go through the list right now. On the case that is coming up soon with the women, I have been told that the MPS thinks that it has to fight the case against the women because they are using public money. They have to fight it. They do not want to pay compensation and so on. It strikes me that there are times when you have to say, 'We are really sorry. We know this happened.' The women are not actually asking for much compensation. The legal advice that you get, I just wonder how sound it is in terms of losing face, losing credibility, and fighting a case that is going to cause an awful lot of embarrassment.

Again and again, we hear that you do not prosecute officers that have committed crimes, that you are prepared to let them resign rather than face we would rather let these officers resign than go through all the awful embarrassment and the cost of a court case and all that sort of thing, but here you are fighting women who appear to have a fantastic case and it is going to cause a lot of egg on face for the MPS.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Two points if I may on that. Firstly, you would expect I am not going to discuss legal tactics in here.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): No, but you might take that argument back to your senior management team.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I take your observation. The second point about people resigning, I cannot remember if it was in this forum or another one

Joanne McCartney (Chair): It was in this meeting.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): It was in this forum. I apologise, Chair. Last meeting, you will remember we said everyone who is going to resign now the application comes to me.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): Now.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Well, Jenny, I understand your frustration, but I cannot answer for predecessors in terms of what they the systems in place now are, if someone wants to resign, the application comes to me.

Jenny Jones (Deputy Chair): I am glad.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): At various points during the week, I have a succession of people coming in with lists around requests. I allow very few.

Joanne McCartney (Chair): OK, thank you.