Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Materials that may have been relevant to undercover policing inquiry were shredded by Metropolitan Police personnel
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has found that materials that may have been relevant to the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) were shredded by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) personnel.
We also found that a former MPS officer would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct had they still been serving, for failure to take action after being informed that a unit within the MPS may have destroyed material relevant to the UCPI.
We conducted three independent investigations into allegations against members of the MPS National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU) which operated between May 2013 and November 2015.
Operation Hibiscus investigated allegations that members of the NDEDIU shredded material relevant to the UCPI after a command communication saying that such material should be retained.
The second investigation examined Baroness Jenny Jones’ complaints that in 2014 the NDEDIU destroyed information, which was or may have been, related to her with the intention of frustrating her Subject Access Requests, the UCPI or to hide improper intelligence gathering about her.
Operation Gilbert investigated allegations and latterly complaints that staff from the NDEDIU sourced email passwords from counterparts in India and used them to unlawfully access and monitor email accounts of environmental activists and journalists.
The three investigations found:
- Material that may have been relevant to the UCPI was shredded by MPS personnel after the Inquiry was announced and after a command circulation stating that material relevant to the UCPI should not be destroyed.
- The MPS instructions to officers and staff were not clear about what material should be retained, were not brought sufficiently forcefully to the attention of officers and staff and clear procedures were not put into place.
- One former officer who was not a member of NDEDIU would have a case to answer for gross misconduct for breach of duties and responsibilities and standards of professional behaviour, had they still been serving, for failure to take effective action after being informed that a unit within the MPS may have destroyed material relevant to the UCPI.
- There was insufficient evidence that any of the subject officers breached the standards of professional behaviour regarding material related to Baroness Jones.
- No evidence that NDEDIU directly targeted Baroness Jones although passing references to her were retained in its database.
- No evidence that staff from the NDEDIU sourced email passwords from counterparts in India and used them to unlawfully access and monitor email accounts of environmental activists and journalists.
Sarah Green, IOPC regional director, yesterday said:
“This investigation has uncovered serious failings in the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit and how it handled materials relevant to the Undercover Policing Inquiry. Managers of NDEDIU should have done more to be clear about what material should be retained, and ensure they had an auditable process for destroying any material believed to be duplicates or not relevant to the inquiry.
“Our investigation also found that one former officer would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct if still serving, in relation to their failure to take the proper action when the shredding allegation was first reported.”
“It is extremely unfortunate that a number of former police managers have refused to engage with this investigation to provide evidence about what steps, if any, were taken to ensure the documents were preserved for the undercover policing inquiry. The investigation had no power to compel them to do so although the Inquiry may do if it considers their evidence on these issues may be relevant.”
These investigations followed a referral from the MPS in May 2016, of allegations that documents kept by the NDEDIU were shredded in May 2014.
Separately a complaint by Baroness Jenny Jones, that records held by the Metropolitan Police relating to her were destroyed or deleted in or about June 2014, was referred to us on 27 January 2017 and we decided to independently investigate.
In May 2017 we started an independent investigation into allegations that the NDEDIU obtained access to email accounts of journalists and environmental activists. The investigation followed the receipt of an anonymous letter alleging that officers from the NDEDIU obtained the passwords to email accounts from counterparts in India.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales.
We investigate the most serious matters, including deaths following police contact, and set the standards by which the police should handle complaints.
We use learning from our work to influence changes in policing
We are independent and make our decisions entirely independently of the police and government.
Our mission is to improve public confidence in policing by ensuring the police are accountable for their actions and lessons are learned
A summary of the investigation report is available on the IOPC website here
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