IN many ways the HMICS Undercover Policing Report is quite revealing. The remit was limited historically as it went back only to 2000. This means periods of social polarisation such as the 1980s and 1990s covering the miners’ strike and the poll tax battles were not included. These were times when police officers were forced to play political roles.

Despite that, the report is fairly candid in sharing the statistical data of undercover policing operations, with 423 having been undertaken since 2000. These all involve serious and dangerous crimes: sexual and violent offences. There may be general public support and indeed admiration for police officers carrying out such activities. Undercover police could be putting their lives on the line in this situation. However, this type of undercover work was not the driver for setting up this inquiry. It was the behaviour of so-called “spycops”who infiltrated grassroots organisations and formed intimate relationships with activists. The report is adamant Scottish police did none of that. There is “no evidence” police from Scotland “infiltrated social justice campaigns”.

There is the concession the London-based undercover unit the Special Demonstration Squad deployed 11 officers over the period of a decade in Scotland – mainly around the G8 summit in 2005 when world leaders including US President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair gathered in Gleneagles. This unit, ironically, was supervised by ex-Chief Constable Phil Gormley when he worked for the Metropolitan Police in the 2000s.

These include Mark Kennedy, who broke his anonymity to reveal the spycops story. He had an intimate relationship with an environmental protester, which caused the police to pay out significant damages. He visited Scotland 17 times.

So, although not Police Scotland employees, these undercover officers operated within Scottish territory. The report claims that during the G8 summit they operated with “the full knowledge” of Tayside Police.

Yet one can see why the victims of the “spycops” think this report only goes a small distance to alleviating their concerns. The report compares itself to the Mitting Undercover Policing Inquiry going on in England – its remit explicitly does not extend to Scotland. It says the findings “should be considered in conjunction with the outcomes” of the English inquiry. This is not comparing like with like. In England there is a full public inquiry held in a court, convened by a judge that is hearing evidence from all stakeholders, not just police.

The HMICS report sidesteps the question of police infiltration of political organisations by stating it has never happened in Police Scotland. Instead, it reads like a series of internal police recommendations on the use of undercover police in serious criminal investigations.

It is unlikely this will satisfy calls for a full public inquiry in Scotland as it barely deals with the issues raised by the spycops scandal.

Dr Nick McKerrell is Law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University.