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Police continue to work with Undercover Policing Inquiry but must maintain anonymity of officers

23 Nov 2016

In order to protect officers and their families while also ensuring we can continue to recruit people for this extremely sensitive and dangerous role, the police services has to protect the operational principle that identities can not be officially confirmed or denied.

Chief Constable Mick Creedon, on behalf of the National Police Chiefs' Council said:

“Undercover policing is a crucial tactic used by the police and other agencies for gathering intelligence to combat some of the most dangerous forms of crime - organised crime, trafficking of drugs, guns and people, child sexual abuse and plots to commit terrorism.

“We are committed to being open and honest with the Inquiry because it is an opportunity for us to learn from any mistakes made in the past and to make any changes that ensure that the public can have even more confidence in the way this vital tactic is used, managed, authorised and overseen.

“While we are doing everything we can to fully support and provide access to the Inquiry, we will make applications for anonymity wherever necessary and in line with the orders of the inquiry because it is essential that we do all we can to protect the identities of the officers who volunteer for this dangerous and psychologically challenging role.”

Further information on the principle of 'neither confirm nor deny':

The practice of neither confirming nor denying is used for a range of covert tactics not just undercover policing which is also used by other agencies such as the security services.

Officers volunteer for undercover policing, putting themselves under significant emotional and psychological pressure and even risking their lives to protect the public and bring offenders to justice. Undercover officers are recruited with the clear expectation that the law enforcement agency they are working for will protect their identity during deployment and afterwards, including into their retirement and even after their death. We owe them and their families’ protection from further harm that could be caused by revealing their identities. This means that wherever possible we will take a strong stance of not confirming or denying operational details that could identify officers or put them at risk of harm.

Any corrosion of the belief that organisations will attempt to protect the identities of officers by all means possible would in turn lead to the position where organisations could no longer credibly encourage officers to volunteer for this dangerous, difficult work on the basis that their identities and roles would be protected. Disclosure of one officer can also put other colleagues at risk or impact on ongoing investigations.

Organised criminals and terrorists will go to great lengths to insulate themselves against action by law enforcement. Criminal and terrorist organisations have reacted with extreme violence against individuals who are alleged to have been human sources.

The NPCC submitted a report on the principle of neither confirm nor deny to the Undercover Policing Inquiry which is available on the Inquiry's website here: https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/160121-submissions-on-the-NCND-principle-NPCC.pdf