12 March 2015

National undercover scrutiny panel set up

A national undercover scrutiny panel made up of representatives from inside and outside of policing has been set up to provide additional scrutiny to undercover policing arrangements

​The College of Policing has set up the national panel to provide external review and feedback on the evidence base for policing practice and standards on undercover policing, to improve public confidence in the use of undercover tactics and to make recommendations of further research into undercover policing.

The group includes academics, policing leaders, solicitors and representatives from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Crown Prosecution Service, Institute for Government, Society of Editors, and Police Action Centre.
The first steps for the group are to ensure that undercover policing is supported by the right training, standards and accreditation.

The panel is expected to complete its review of undercover work by January 2016.

College of Policing chief executive Chief Constable Alex Marshall said:

“As the professional body for policing the College of Policing is focussed on setting the evidence base, educational requirements, accreditation and oversight for undercover policing. This external scrutiny panel will play a key role in ensuring that the College is delivering on its work in this critical policing area.

“Undercover policing is a vital tool in combatting some of the most serious crime and undercover officers take on some incredibly difficult and dangerous work. We know from recent high profile events and the HMIC’s own review of undercover policing that the police service needs to improve training, bring greater transparency and build public confidence in this area of policing.

“We now have the first Code of Ethics for policing, which clearly sets out the standards of behaviour expected of all those who work in the policing profession. The Code includes an explicit statement in relation to covert policing.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said:

“Undercover policing is something that people don't see but they know it goes on and it's vital the public trust that it's used properly. Putting in place the appropriate policies, training and other safeguards will achieve consistency and professionalism across the police service. This scrutiny panel will help us achieve that and help give the public confidence in undercover policing. It's their police service and they deserve no less.”

Additional Resources

Panel Terms of Reference

Notes to Editors

This press release was amended on 4 June 2015 to remove comments by Sophie Khan, Director of Legal and Policy at Police Action Centre, following her departure from the panel.

As part of the transparency work, the College will soon publish a public facing guidance document on undercover policing.
Please find the terms of reference for the National Undercover Scrutiny Panel attached
The minutes of all previous undercover advisory group panel meetings will be published on the College of Policing website shortly.

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