Crime and Justice

Scottish Government orders review of undercover policing in Scotland

Police Scotland car | CC | Steven Straiton

The Scottish Government has ordered a review of undercover policing following a decision by the Home Office not to extend the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland.

The Pitchford Inquiry was established last year to examine undercover policing in England and Wakes after it emerged that Met Police officers abused their powers during covert operations.

Some officers entered into long term relationships with women they were spying on, resulting in the Met issuing an apology and paying out compensation.

There were subsequent calls for the inquiry to be extended to Scotland after it emerged that secret Met units at the heart of the scandal also operated north of the border, but the Home Office recently ruled out extending the remit of the inquiry.

The Ferret – along with the Sunday Mail, Sunday Herald, Daily Record and other media – has reported widely on the issue over the past year highlighting calls for an inquiry to be held in Scotland.

In response to the Home Office’s decision, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson today directed HMICS to carry out an independent review of undercover policing activities in Scotland.

Mr Matheson said: “I am firmly of the view that an extension of the Pitchford Inquiry’s terms of reference to cover the activities of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad in Scotland is still the right thing to do and am disappointed that the UK Government has refused to do so.

“Given the operational extent of those Units, the Scottish Government believes that a single coherent inquiry is the most effective approach to provide a comprehensive investigation into these activities.

“However, in light of the Home Office’s decision I have today directed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to undertake a strategic review of undercover policing in Scotland.

“This will cover the extent and scale of undercover policing in Scotland, both as it stands and dating back to when the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 came into force. It will also consider undercover police operations carried out in Scotland by the NPOIU and SDS in the same period.

“This review will also give independent assurance on the operation, procedures and safeguards in place by Police Scotland in relation to undercover policing.”

You can read The Ferret’s stories on spycops here.

Also published on Medium.

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