7 Apr 2020

The Chairman of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, has issued a statement in response to special measures applications invited from former undercover officers who will give evidence in Tranche 1, which covers those active in the Special Demonstration Squad between 1968 and 1982.

The Inquiry has received special measure applications from a number of these officers, which the Chairman has now considered. In the statement, the Chairman sets out his response to those applications. He has decided that:

  • To minimise risks to the witnesses brought on by pre-existing health conditions, age, or coronavirus (COVID-19), all undercover officers in Tranche 1 who will be required to give evidence at a public hearing can, if they choose, provide evidence by video-link. This option is also available to civilian witnesses in Tranche 1 who give evidence.
  • In the interest of transparency, the Chairman has declined requests for officers to be screened from public view or to have their voices modulated.
  • Photographs and video or audio recordings in the hearing or overflow room will be strictly prohibited.

Almost all civilian witness statements for Tranche 1 have now been received. The civilian witnesses who are content to give oral evidence will soon be invited to submit their special measure applications.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry’s first evidence hearings were expected to start in June 2020. Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and recent government advice, the Inquiry postponed this start date on 17 March 2020.

On 25 March 2020, following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March 2020, the Inquiry temporarily closed its office and asked staff to work from home until further notice. The decision to close the office will be kept under review by the Inquiry in step with the Government’s periodic review of its guidance and restrictions.

The investigative work the Inquiry can undertake has been limited by the office closure, as most materials are accessed via a secure platform that cannot be accessed remotely.

Due to the current pandemic, and the consequent restrictions on movement, there is some uncertainty around when hearings will be able to start. However, by the time of the office closure, a significant amount of work for the June 2020 hearings had been completed. Furthermore, preparation work continues, to the extent possible, with the intention that the Inquiry can start hearings in September 2020, or as soon as practicable after that.

Further updates will be provided in due course.

END

NOTES TO EDITORS

Further background to the Inquiry can be found on the Inquiry website.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry is constituted under the Inquiries Act 2005

The Inquiry’s terms of reference were announced by the Home Secretary on 16 July 2015.

The Inquiry’s Frequently Asked Questions page provides more information on the Inquiry more generally, as do its published update notes.

The Inquiry can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

For further information, please contact the Inquiry’s communications team:

Emailpress.queries@ucpi.orq.uk

Tel:     07585 908612