1 Sep 2021

In a ruling published today, the Chairman of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Sir John Mitting, gave his decisions on anonymity applications from 16 National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) officers. Ten officers were granted real name anonymity, and six were refused it. Additionally, one of these officers – EN 29 – was granted cover name anonymity, and another – EN 508 – was refused it.

The officers granted real name anonymity were EN 29, EN 30, EN 32, EN 49, EN 51, EN 52, EN 53, EN 291, EN 506 and EN 508. The officers refused real name anonymity were EN 26, EN 28, EN 31, EN 50, EN 54 and EN 407.

Of the 16 officers, two were undercover officers (EN 32 and EN 508) and the remaining 14 were cover officers. A cover officer is an officer allocated to an undercover officer, who is responsible for matters such as security and welfare.

This latest ruling follows a minded-to note, published on 15 November 2018, in which the Chairman gave his provisional decisions on applications from the 16 officers.

The ruling is the second to be published regarding NPOIU officer anonymity. The first ruling was published on 30 October 2018 and concerned applications from 22 NPOIU officers.

Fourteen further applications for real name anonymity are yet to be determined, along with one application for cover name anonymity.

The NPOIU is one of two main undercover policing units being investigated by the Inquiry. The other unit is the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). The process for determining anonymity applications from former SDS officers and managers is complete.

The Inquiry will publish the cover name of EN 508 on its website in due course. Cover names are published to help the public determine whether they have been affected by undercover policing and to come forward with evidence. The Inquiry has already provided the cover names of four NPOIU officers on its website: EN 1 (“Marco Jacobs”), EN 12 (“Mark Stone”/Mark Kennedy), EN 32 (“Rod Richardson”) and EN 34 (“Lynn Watson”). Additionally, the Inquiry has published the cover names of 69 former SDS officers.

You can find further statistics on NPOIU and SDS anonymity applications on pages 11 and 12 of the Inquiry’s tenth update note.


Why anonymity is sometimes needed

The Inquiry aims to be as open and transparent as possible. However, to discover the truth about undercover policing, in some cases, evidence will need to be heard by the Inquiry without members of the public, or some core participants being present at the hearing.

This can be because:

  • Some core participants – including people who have been deceived into relationships with officers – want their privacy respected.
  • Exposure of identities could put individuals at a present and ongoing serious risk of injury, or in extreme cases, death, because of the nature of the deployments they have undertaken.
  • Revealing identities could damage individuals or their family’s private life and contravene their human rights.

In these cases, anonymity can be granted by the Chairman through a restriction order, which is a protective measure under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Where individuals have been deceived into relationships, the Chairman has stated (PDF, 375KB) that, when the true identity of an undercover officer is not restricted, the deceived individuals have a right to know the real name. Should a deceived individual confirm they wish to know the unrestricted true identity of the officer who deceived them, the Inquiry provides the name to them with no terms of confidence applied. Wider publication of the true identity will take place in these cases by leaving the name un-redacted in documents when they are published or otherwise shared by the Inquiry.

The ‘Publications’ page of the Inquiry website contains copies of any restriction orders made along with open versions of the anonymity applications.

National Public Order Intelligence Unit

In or around 1986, the Special Branch network set up the Animal Rights National Index (ARNI). The ARNI developed into the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) in or around 1999. In or around 2010, the NPOIU merged with two other units to become the National Domestic Extremism Unit.

The NPOIU’s role was to manage all intelligence considered to relate to domestic extremism. Their work included carrying out undercover policing operations.

The Inquiry is considering the undercover policing activities of officers and managers and those affected by deployments in tranches ordered chronologically. NPOIU officers and managers and those affected by deployments are the focus of Tranche 4.



The Inquiry is constituted under the Inquiries Act 2005 (PDF, 207KB)

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference (PDF, 84KB) were announced by the Home Secretary on 16 July 2015.

You can find further background to the Inquiry on the ‘About’ page of the Inquiry’s website.

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

Email: [email protected]

Tel:     07585 908612