22 Feb 2018

The Chairman of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, is today publishing a statement on anonymity applications. This statement follows a consultation that set out proposals to speed up the process around restriction order applications, which were the subject of submissions at the hearing on 5 February 2018.

The consultation proposals were aimed at speeding up the Inquiry’s progress by changing what information connected to applications for anonymity is published and when. The Inquiry’s proposal was to move to an approach more closely tailored to the application under consideration. The proposed approach enables more resources to be allocated to the Inquiry’s substantive investigation.

The Chairman’s statement, issued today, says that the Inquiry will now adopt the processes outlined in the consultation paper (subject to minor modifications detailed below) as to whether material supporting an application will be prepared for publication.

The full range of circumstances, and approaches that will now be adopted, are set out in the table included within the consultation paper. In brief, these are that where the publication of a real name is the only question for decision, the Inquiry will publish the application but would not ordinarily publish the supporting evidence. Where publication of both an undercover police officer’s real and cover names falls to be decided, and the Chairman is minded to grant the application to restrict both real and cover name, then under the proposal the Inquiry will continue to publish the application and a gist or redacted version of the supporting evidence so that those with an interest in the outcome of the application can participate by making submissions. Where the Chairman is minded to refuse an application to restrict a cover name, the Inquiry would give the officer an opportunity to make submissions at a closed hearing and would not prepare the material supplied in support of the application for publication should the Chairman rule, after hearing from the officer, against the application and release the cover name.

The Chairman is however adopting a few minor changes to the process detailed in the consultation as follows:

  • In cases in which the Chairman has refused to make a restriction order in respect of the real name, nothing will be published.
  • The new process will not apply to applications made by managers for a restriction order in respect of the real name only, which the Chairman would be minded to grant: in that event, the current process will apply, meaning that the Inquiry will continue to publish the application and a redacted version or gist of the supporting evidence.
  • In cases where the Chairman has refused to make a restriction order in respect of the cover name, that cover name will be published before the open hearing of the application for a restriction order in respect of the real name.

The Inquiry will adopt the new process for applications for restriction orders that have not yet been determined, including all of those made since 31 July 2017.

Background

The purpose of the Undercover Policing Inquiry is to investigate and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968. The Inquiry will examine the contribution undercover policing has made to tackling crime, how it was and is supervised and regulated, and its effect on individuals involved – both police officers and others who came into contact with them.

The work of the Inquiry ranges across the full scope of undercover policing work and will look at the work of the Special Demonstration Squad, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and police forces in England and Wales. The Inquiry will also examine whether people may have been wrongly convicted in cases involving undercover police officers, and refer any such cases to a separate panel for consideration. The work of the Inquiry will fall into three modules:

  1. Module one will look at what happened in the deployment of undercover officers in the past, their conduct, and the impact of their activities on themselves and others.
  2. Module two will look at the management and oversight of undercover officers, including their selection, training, supervision and care after the end of an undercover deployment. This section will also look at the law and other rules covering undercover policing.
  3. Module three will make recommendations about how undercover policing should be conducted in future.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Draft transcripts of the 5 February 2018 hearing
  2. Legal principles Ruling May 2016
  3. The Chairman’s 20 November 2017 statement
  4. The Undercover Policing Inquiry is constituted under the Inquiries Act 2005.
  5. The Inquiry’s terms of reference were announced by the Home Secretary on 16 July 2015.
  6. The Inquiry’s frequently asked questions document provides more information on the Inquiry more generally, as do published update notes.
  7. The Inquiry’s website is www.ucpi.org.uk and the Inquiry can be found on Twitter @ucpinquiry

For further information please contact the Inquiry’s press officer, Jo Coles:

Email: press.queries@ucpi.org.uk

Tel: 07827 818 460