A review of undercover policing in Scotland will examine the covert operations involving rogue former officers who had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will confirm this morning that its probe will include the activities of two notorious London-based units since 2000, which covers the G8 summit in Gleneagles nearly twelve years ago.
However, the timescale has disappointed campaigners who believe the review should go back even further and investigate issues such as the poll tax and the Miners’ strike.
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Undercover policing in the UK has been tarnished by revelations that some of the officers at the now-defunct Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) targeted peaceful campaign groups.
The so-called “spy cops” also took their secret identities from dead babies and, in some cases, had sex with the women they were being paid to keep tabs on.
The Pitchford Inquiry was set up to look at the SDS and NPOIU, but the UK Government refused to extend the judicial-led probe to Scotland.
This was in spite of proof that Mark Kennedy, perhaps the most famous of all the NPOIU undercover operatives, spied on activists at the G8.
Scottish Government Justice Secretary Michael Matheson directed HMICS to carry out a separate review of undercover policing in Scotland and the watchdog’s terms of reference will be published today.
Stage one will be an “initial scoping” exercise that will gather the views of “key stakeholders”.
The second part will examine the operational delivery of undercover policing since the establishment of Police Scotland in 2013.
This section will also include a workstream focusing on the covert operations by Scottish legacy forces from October 1st 2000 onwards, which will involve an analysis of all authorisations.
It is understood 2000 was chosen as it was the year in which the current legislative framework for undercover policing came into force.
Another related strand of this part of the review will be a focus on SDS/NPOIU activity north of the border in the same time period. Kennedy and 'Carlo Neri' are among the undercover officers known to have visited Scotland.
However, although HMICS wants to complete this part of the review by May, the terms of reference make clear this depends on partnership organisations such as the Met.
Other stages of the probe include a “review and analysis of evidence” and “quality assurance”. September 2017 is the provisional publication date for the report.
The review was criticised after it emerged that one of the HMICS review team members, former officer Stephen Whitelock, had been involved in the governance of undercover policing at the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.
The terms of reference note that Derek Penman, the most senior figure at the HMICS, will lead the review: “He [Penman] will put measures in place to protect the overall integrity of the review and will ensure that all members of the team are deployed appropriately into specific areas where there can be no conflict of interest.”
However, Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “I welcome the terms of reference being published, however the failure to investigate undercover police activity prior to the year 2000 means that there will be no light shone on activities during the anti-poll tax campaign, the miners’ strike, the Kinning park print dispute or the infiltration of animal rights groups amongst many, many others.
“This means that Scottish victims of unethical and/or illegal undercover police activity during the 70s, 80s and 90s will be denied access to the truth of what happened, unlike victims in England and Wales. This is unacceptable.”