National Undercover Scrutiny Panel – more minutes released

Peter Salmon / Undercover Research Group
6 July 2015

In the last week we have had a successful Freedom of Information request in relation to minutes of the meetings of the Undercover Policing Scrutiny Panel for July 2014 and February 2015. We have also spoken to Peter Jukes, one of the people invited to attend the July 2014 meeting and Sophie Khan who quit the Panel.

Overall there is nothing startling to be revealed. The first meeting appears to have been quite informal, with the focus being on the dilemma of marring the conflicting needs of transparency and the need to break stories on one side, with the need to protect the undercover officers on the other side. That is, how to create public scrutiny without putting the undercovers themselves at risk. The group also seems to go by the alternative title ‘Undercover Policing Oversight Group’.

Since then numbers in attendance seem to have fallen dramatically, with only a third present in some form at the February meeting, and only four apologies. Continue reading

UPDATE: Southampton University and Special Branch

Peter Salmon / Undercover Research Group
6 July 2015

In April we wrote about how Hampshire Special Branch had put pressure on Southampton University to cancel an academic conference on Israel. We highlighted this as it was evidence of ongoing political policing and blacklisting through the back-door – in particular through the Government’s PREVENT counter-terrorism strategy. PREVENT, as we have demonstrated elsewhere, is merely Special Branch in another guise.

So it is was of interest that in the same week the latest bout of counter-terrorism legislations commences, requiring educational establishments take up political policing against radicals and ‘extremism’, Hampshire Police also responded to our FOIA about the Southampton University – Special Branch meetings.

It seems we were right in our assertion that one of those meeting with the head of security for Southampton University was no less than the head of Hampshire Special Branch, Scott Chilton. Chilton is Head of the Joint Operational Unit between Hampshire Police and Thames Valley Police forces, where he has command of Special Branch and Covert Policing, and someone we suspect of having involvement in other covert police actions against animal rights activists in this time. Continue reading