Open Letter to the Undercover Policing Scrutiny Panel

To the Chair of the National Undercover Scrutiny Panel
(also known as National Oversight Group)

London, 5th October, 2015

Dear Alex Marshall & David Tucker,

As you are probably aware, the Undercover Research Group has been following the National Undercover Scrutiny Panel (a.k.a. the National Oversight Group) quite closely for some time. It is quite clear that for the panel there is a tension between the natural secrecy involved in undercover policing and the failure of public trust that has demanded for more accountability.

It is only fair to acknowledge that our viewpoint is a critical one. However, putting our own views to one side for the moment, we would like to point out something that you appear to have missed. If you are to be an oversight group, as your new name implies, then you do need to be visible and accountable to some degree. So far, your default position comes over as secrecy in the first instance. All public information on you has pretty much come from Freedom of Information requests or outside pressure.

So, however you may perceive it yourselves, it essentially appears as if it is business as usual to the outside world. To this end, we would like to point out that a small, simple but significant step is to have an online presence where people can see you and which you can publish details of your activities, minutes and other relevant documents. Publishing them is clearly not always an issue, as the College of Policing have on the whole been exemplary in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests for NUSP related documents.

Furthermore you appear to be lacking any specific contact point by which concerns can be made known to yourselves or inquiries made, which only adds to the impression of a lack of accountability.

We would be grateful if you would raise this issue at your next meeting.

Peter Salmon
can be reached at the Undercover Research Group