Public inquiry on undercover policing: urgent deadline to register as core participant

Undercover police posing as activists

Public pressure has forced the Home Secretary into announcing a Public Inquiry into undercover policing in the UK. If you have, or it's quite likely you have been, involved in a campaign/activist group/movement that was infliltrated by undercover police operatives in the last few decades, now is the time to register as a Core Participant in the Inquiry...

Were You Spied On by Undercover Police?

Applying for Core Participant status in the upcoming Public Inquiry

Main registration deadline 18th Sept 2015

In March 2015, following multiple scandals about political undercover policing, the Home Secretary announced that there would be a Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing.

The Inquiry will attempt to investigate and report on "whether, and to what purpose, extent and effect, undercover police operations have targeted political and social justice campaigners".
The inquiry's investigation will include, but not be limited to, the undercover operations of the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

It will also look into potential Miscarriages of Justice arising from the non-disclosure of undercover police operations.

For campaigners the Inquiry provides a unique opportunity to learn more about how undercover political policing has operated and affected political movements in the UK, potentially learning if/how your group was spied on. It can also be used as an opportunity to raise public awareness and influence public opinion on political policing and its effects on society.

Applying to be a core participant

Any individual, family, campaign group, trade union or political movement which knows, or even has good reason to suspect, that they were spied on by undercover police, should seriously think about applying for core participant status for this inquiry.

The Inquiry was formally opened in July by the Inquiry Chairman Lord Justice Pitchford. He asked for those affected to notify the Inquiry if they had relevant evidence or wanted to apply for 'core participant' status. Designation as a core participant enables legal representation, paid for by the Inquiry. Core participant status can be granted to an individual or group, whether or not formally constituted.

Potential benefits

Core participants have a more central status in the Inquiry, are generally given advance notice of decisions and increased access to evidence, including documents. Since they are represented it is much easier to have input into the direction of the inquiry and questions put to the police.
So far there has been little focus on the effects of police infiltration on environmental and social justice movements. Unless activists come forward the Inquiry may avoid looking at this important issue.

Revelations so far have come from activists and the media exposing a dozen or so undercover officers. The SDS alone ran from 1968 to 2008 and in that time operated with 10 undercover officers each year on postings lasting up to 5 years. Then there are subsequent units. There have clearly been many more officers infiltrating campaigns, political organisations and trade unions, as well as spying on the families of people killed by racists, or who have died in custody. The Inquiry should be pressured to reveal the cover names of these officers to enable evidence to be given which may uncover further miscarriages of justice, deceptive relationships and interference with privacy and protest rights.

Concerns

Ultimately you may be asked to give evidence to the inquiry and may be cross -examined. This is something for people / groups to consider - who might be best to give evidence, taking into account varying factors such as experience and confidence (some people may find this intimidating), roles, what contact with any undercover officer etc.

It is likely there will be attempts to restrict the terms of this inquiry, cut down on the secret information we are able to access, and shut out some people from finding out the truth and achieving any kind of justice. The current police strategy of ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ when faced with legal challenges to undercover operations, doesn’t bode well, and many activists and campaigners may well be cynical about what can be won from such official processes. However, the more of us that can put our case, tell our stories, the more revelations we may be able to push for, and the greater the possibility of pegging back police powers. It’s got to be worth a try.

THE DEADLINE IS LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY:

This doesn’t leave much time, and people/groups may have reservations about whether to participate in the Inquiry, or whether it will achieve much. But as Core Participants we can also work together to develop a strong strategy to get as much out of the process as possible.

For campaigns and movements who have historically been subject to undercover police infiltration, but no longer exist as functioning groups, it might be worth talking to old colleagues and making an application now, although you may feel a wider discussion needs to be had among ex-members/activists. Individuals can also apply if they feel they have been personally affected.

At this stage we suggest not giving huge volumes of information to the Inquiry in your application. We haven't been given clear details of what will be included or to what extent documents will be made public. As many of these events stretch back over decades, memories may be hazy. It may be more appropriate to wait for disclosure of police or other documents which may act as a memory prompt. A pro forma application is included below, for those not sure what they need to say.

If you are still unsure or want further info, we suggest you read these two statements :

Undercover Research Group

http://undercoverresearch.net/2015/09/11/what-to-think-about-when-deciding-to-apply-for-

core-participation/

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2015/08/19/public-inquiry-core-participant-

status/

Plus further info on the Public Inquiry website: www.ucpi.org.uk

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Undercover Policing Public Inquiry Pro-forma

Application for Core Participant status

If you are not sure what to say when applying for core participant status, use one of the two texts below. Please adapt / add / delete as appropriate for your application and include contact details

so the inquiry can communicate with you.

If you know an undercover officer attended any of your meetings or events:

I / we are applying for core participant status in the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing.

I was / we were part of / involved with [name of organisation] from [year] to [year] and we know that [name of undercover officer] attended our meetings and / or protest events during that time. We are concerned that the actions of undercover police officers may have undermined our group and interfered with ECHR rights, in particular Article 8 (right to privacy), Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (freedom of association / assembly). We anticipate that the police may seek to justify their actions by criticising or making assertions about [name of organisation] and we want to be represented at the Inquiry so we are able to make representations and respond to any assertions made.

[Add name of organisation and contact names & details ]

OR

If you don't know whether an undercover officer attended any of your meetings or

events:

I / we are applying for core participant status in the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing.

I was / we were part of / involved with [name of organisation / movement] from [year] to [year] and we are concerned that undercover officers may have attended meetings and protest events during that time. On that basis we are concerned that the actions of Undercover Police Officers may have undermined our group / movement and interfered with ECHR rights in particular Article 8 (right to privacy), Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (freedom of association / assembly). We also anticipate that the police may seek to justify their actions by criticising or making assertions about [name of movement] and we want to be represented at the Inquiry so we are able to make representations and respond to any assertions made.

[Add name of organisation and contact names & details ]

Contact details for Inquiry:

Send the form in by email at info@ucpi.org.uk or press.queries@ucpi.org.uk

or to Postal address: PO BOX 71230, London, NW1W 7QH

Website: www.ucpi.org.uk

Telephone : 0203 741 0411

For further info on the Public Inquiry and undercover policing:

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2015/08/19/public-inquiry-core-participant-

status/

Undercover Research Group

http://undercoverresearch.net/2015/09/11/what-to-think-about-when-deciding-to-apply-for-

core-participation/

The Monitoring Group

http://www.tmg-uk.org/inquiry-into-undercover-policing-of-protest-and-social-justice-campaigns-

announced-in-parliament-today/

Public Inquiry website: www.ucpi.org.uk

Terms of Reference: https://www.ucpi.org.uk/about-the-inquiry/

Chairman’s Opening Remarks 28 July 2015 (inc details of applying for core participancy):

https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Opening-Remarks.pdf

Guardian reports on undercover policing

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/undercover-with-paul-lewis-and-rob-evans

Police Spies Out of Lives (re undercover relationships)

http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/