Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing in Scotland

Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing in Scotland

The Scottish Legal Action Group (SCOLAG) today adds its voice to the campaign for an independent public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland.

Media reporting south of the border has found evidence of gross malpractice by undercover police officers. These include allegations of:

  • Women discovering that their partners were serving undercover police officers, in some cases, after having had children with those partners.
  • The infiltration by police officers of social and environmental campaign groups, trade unions, as well as political campaigns and interactions with politicians themselves.
  • The use by officers of the identities of deceased children.
  • Possible miscarriages of justice arising from a failure to disclose to prosecutors, and therefore, the defence, evidence obtained by police in the course of undercover activities.
  • Allegations of criminality on part of undercover officers.

As a result of the reporting, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, established an independent public inquiry into the subject matter in England and Wales. Despite repeated requests by the Scottish Government, the UK Government has declined to extend the scope of the inquiry to cover activities in Scotland. This is despite the fact that certain officers allegedly involved in the aforementioned activities were deployed, at times, in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has relied on a recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland in refusing to establish an inquiry of its own. This report, however, does not provide any detailed analysis of the activities carried out on an undercover basis by officers from Scottish legacy forces.

In these circumstances, SCOLAG believes there is a compelling case for a Scottish inquiry in order to allow resolution of the fundamental human rights issues arising in relation to those who suspect they have been victims of inappropriate undercover intrusion. We have produced a briefing note setting out our position in detail.

We are presently working with Neil Findlay MSP and Liam McArthur MSP with a view to hosting an event in coming months at the Scottish Parliament outlining the case for an inquiry. MSPs from other parties have also indicated their support. We are hopeful that in time the Scottish Government will come to accept that this issue is a matter of legitimate public concern which can only be properly addressed by the establishment of a public inquiry.