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HMIC: Undercover police officers display “great courage”

HMIC 001Undercover police officers have been praised for carrying out the role “professionally and with great courage” in a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

HMIC was asked by the Home Secretary Theresa May to carry out an inspection into undercover policing in June 2013. The results found that “generally, undercover officers carried out their roles professionally, courageously and with integrity.”

The report said: “We were impressed by their keen awareness of the vital role which they play in protecting our communities, and the legal, practical and ethical environment in which they operate.”

All undercover regional and national policing units in England and Wales, and the National Crime Agency were inspected.

The watchdog found: “In general, undercover police officers (by whom we mean all those who are

deployed in undercover activities, irrespective of their police force or law enforcement agency) carry out their roles professionally and with great courage. We found them to be dedicated to their task.”

It added: “We applaud their bravery, their professionalism and their skill. The work of the vast majority of individual undercover police officers, whilst unsung, should never go unnoticed.”

However, the inspection did uncover inconsistencies and shortcomings in policies, systems and training which it said threatened the effectiveness of undercover officers.

It made 49 recommendations for improvement – including one that called for better psychological support for officers working undercover.

It called on The College of Policing to issue a policy that requires the creation of a standing group of psychologists and psychiatrists with experience of providing psychological assessments for individuals operating in high-risk or safety-critical roles and said chief constables and other police leaders should “establish the need for and implement consistent national psychological support for all undercover officers.”

HM Inspector Stephen Otter, who led the inspection, said: “The public have a right to feel confident that this highly intrusive area of policing is being carried out in the most scrupulous way. Therefore, whilst we found that undercover officers were, in general, knowledgeable, professional and courageous, it was disappointing to find inconsistencies and shortcomings in the way undercover officers were supported by policies, systems and training across the country.”

Date posted: October 24, 2014

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