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.

A new member appears, Dr. Katerina Hadjimatheou, an academic at Warwick University with an interest in police ethics. A future discussion would consider the controversial position of Neither Confirm Nor Deny, which has been challenged by the women suing the Metropolitan Police.
Sophie Khan, who had sent her apologizes for the February meeting, emphasizes she never quit anything she joined before, but that this Panel was not making any progress at all. No case had been reviewed yet and no start had been made with inviting more activists to the Panel. She compared it to the then Stop and Search Community Monitoring Network set up at the same time that likewise does seem to work.

Somewhat to our bemusement, two members of the Undercover Policing Scrutiny Panel had their names redacted, one at their own request and the other for national security reasons. In the letter sent as part of the FOIA response, it was noted that the Chair of the NUSP (and head of the College of Policing), Alex Marshall, had explained that the names of those in attendance who wanted to remain anonymous would not be released due to the ‘potential personal impact that any association [with the panel] may cause‘; and ‘more that the College have recognised the potential personal impact that any disclosure [of individual participants’ names] may cause to the panel members and that this may lead to unwarranted intrusion into their personal lives‘.

We do hope the irony was more than apparent to them.

Continue to the profile of the Undercover Policing Scrutiny Panel.

FOIA Request results on WhatDoTheyKnow.com.