In 2012/13 details of undercover police ops were widely reported in the media in the wake of several scandals involving police infiltrating political organisations as agent provocateurs, resulting in one trial of activists being thrown out by the courts and shocking details of how some officers – the most notorious example being that of Mark Kennedy – had formed sexual relationships with activists (and in one case at least fathering a child). Allegations of undercover officers using birth certificates of dead babies are among other scandals which came to light. But a recently published report shows that the number of undercover officers numbers over 1200 and that guidelines to curb their infamous practices were never implemented. It is also interesting to note that the national undercover index has only 568 officers listed – less than half the true number.
The biggest scandals involved undercover cops Mark Kennedy, Rod Leeming (both collaborated to later set up Global Open, a private security company), Bob Lambert (who inflitated London Greenpeace and even co-wrote the document that led to the infamous McLibel Trial) and Jim Boyling.
The recent review of undercover policing by Stephen Otter of the National Undercover Working Group and on behalf of HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) provides a progress summary on the June 2013 report and a 2014 update into undercover policing that was ordered in the wake of the various scandals.
Nationally, the UK’s undercover police are coordinated by a secretive unit, currently headed by Jon Boutcher (photo below), who is nominally assigned to Bedfordshire Police.