If you have been spied on by undercover police, Netpol recommends contacting the Undercover Research Group, who are offering a way for activists to give their testimony to the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry.
Over the next two to three years, judge Christopher Pitchford is chairing a public inquiry into undercover policing operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces since 1968. The inquiry is focusing on, but not limited to, two political policing units: the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which operated in London from 1968 to 2008, and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), set up in 1999 and conducting nationwide undercover operations until it was taken over by the Met in 2010. The NPOIU was the unit that undercover officers like Mark Kennedy, Marco Jacobs and Lynn Watson belonged to.
While we have few expectations that the Pitchford Inquiry will end undercover policing operations that target protesters, it does provides an unprecedented opportunity to understand and expose one of the most deeply intrusive and disturbing aspects of the police response to political activism. The stories of the women deceived into intimate relationships with undercover officers is an important part of this, but so too is the evidence of everyone who had the misfortune to invite a police spy to their workplaces, into their homes and into their trust.
Around the UK there are many who have had such encounters. Individually, each of those stories may seem small or insignificant, but together they amount to a very powerful picture of campaigns disrupted and private lives invaded.
Lord Justice Pitchford has invited interested parties to apply to become ‘core participants’ in the Inquiry, which includes legal representation. Netpol has decided not to seek this status itself but is instead supporting the work of one of our members, the Undercover Research Group, a collective of grassroots activists that includes many who were themselves targeted by undercover officers. It is seeking recognition by the Inquiry as core participants in order to coordinate the testimonies of individuals or groups who feel their interaction with undercover police is too ‘small’ to matter, or have concerns about further state intrusion into their work and private life by giving up their anonymity. The Undercover Research Group can offer a way for all those affected by undercover police officers to safely and securely ensure their own experiences are heard.
If you are happy for the Undercover Research Group to represent your interests at the Inquiry, or just want to pass on information anonymously, you can contact them at email@example.com (PGP key on request)
If you think you have a strong enough case to become a ‘core participant’ in your own right, check out this excellent article by the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), which brings together the different campaigns publicising the impact of undercover policing and was instrumental in calling for a public inquiry. The deadline set by Lord Justice Pitchford for requests for core participant status is 4pm on 18 September 2015.
For more on the Inquiry, you can find its website at www.ucpi.org.uk