The Undercover Policing Inquiry today heard closing statements regarding the investigation into historic illegal policing tactics. The statement revealed that, as early as 1983, the Metropolitan Police was aware of the “widespread misogyny…at the highest levels.”
The inquiry focuses on the operations of the ‘Special Demonstration Squad’, an undercover unit working with Scotland Yard and the security services, which infiltrated protest groups between 1968 and 2008. The inquiry is examining conduct of 139 undercover officers who spied on over 1,000 left-wing groups. During this time, police officers operated under assumed identities for extended periods of time, luring people into fictitious relationships in order to spy on them. One officer even fathered a child with an activist, before disappearing when the child was two. ‘Women were used casually by the undercover officers according to their personal preferences…to maintain cover, gain access or obtain information,’ the inquiry heard.
Closing statements made on behalf of 25 women deceived into relationships by undercover police officers drew attention to the 1983 report Police in Action. This report referred such acts as “rubber-stamping [Women Police Officers] on the bare bum.” It is not clear whether the Met disclosed this report to the inquiry.
Charlotte Kilroy KC argued that these acts ‘had a strong influence on policemen’s behaviour towards women, towards victims of sexual offences, and towards sexual offenders.’ Failure to combat this “endemic” culture of misogyny and institutional sexism contributed to the recent scandals surrounding the Met, in particular the rapes committed by Wayne Couzens and David Carrick.
The representative for the Met has admitted that the operations were “unjustifiable”. The inquiry has heard that ‘no one appears to have addressed their mind to the legality of the SDS’ operations… had they done so… they should have decided to disband the SDS.’