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Report critical of undercover units

Undercover police units will come under fire for gathering and keeping information about black justice groups that "served no purpose in preventing crime".

In the latest report about the conduct of Scotland Yard moles, due to be published tomorrow, Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon will say that the force's highly secretive Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), Special Branch and senior management flouted rules about what details should be kept.

He was called in to lead an inquiry into the SDS after a series of allegations were made about the unit, including that officers used the identities of dead children without permission and tricked women into serious sexual relationships.

It was also accused of having infiltrated campaign groups close to the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence and gathering information to "smear" his relatives.

In a statement today, Mr Creedon said: "My report is very clear that criticism must be levelled at the Metropolitan Police Service for keeping information, which had been gathered by undercover officers, which served no purpose in preventing crime or disorder.

"This is not a criticism of the deployment of the individual officers, but of the lack of regard the SDS, Special Branch and the Metropolitan Police Service senior management paid to the rules and legislation that clearly set out what they should, and should not have, collected and retained."

However he said that there was no evidence to suggest that officers deliberately targeted black justice campaigns, that pressed for action following deaths in police custody, police shootings and serious racist assaults.

Part of his investigation, called Operation Herne, is to look at claims from a former undercover officer, published in the Observer in 2010, that the SDS had infiltrated groups, which meant they were "effectively finished" and therefore justice was harder to obtain.

Mr Creedon said: "To date we have found no evidence that any SDS officer targeted or infiltrated any family member of any Justice Campaign, nor the Justice Campaign itself, and we can find no trace of any personal information about family members having been recorded by them.

"Whilst it is also clear that there was neither an SDS or Metropolitan Police Service tactic to infiltrate or report on such campaigns for justice, my report will be critical of the MPS, and in particular of MPS Special Branch for the routine gathering and retention of information that was collateral, not linked to an operation or the prevention of crime and it should have been disposed of as part of a weeding process."

His officers have been to visit families who are mentioned in SDS files, but Mr Creedon has refused to identify them, saying that many want the issue to remain private.


From Belfast Telegraph