Sue & Sophie – What Have We Learnt?

Sorry to keep banging on about it, but I happen to think it’s important. We’ve now had about 48 hours since the news broke that Sue Mountstevens and Sophie Khan are part of the panel looking at Undercover Policing.

Now that the initial hullabaloo has almost died down, what have we actually learnt?

Firstly, we have learnt that I have now been #BlockedBySophieKhan.

Secondly, we have learnt that this panel has been in existence since July 2014 but we are only being told about it now.

We have learnt that the full makeup of the panel is this;

1. Alex Marshall (Chair) College of Policing
2. Stephen Otter HMIC
3. Sophie Khan People Action Centre
4. Sue Mountstevens Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner
5. Richard Martin Metropolitan Police
6. Christopher Nathan University of Warwick
7. Jon Boutcher Bedfordshire Police
8. David Tucker College of Policing
9. Gordon Ryan College of Policing
10. Kerry Robinson College of Policing
11. Rob Beckley College of Policing
12. Joe McGuigan HMRC
13. David Carrigan Independent Advisory Group
14. Dr Chris Nathan Warwick Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group *Duplicate by CofP
15. Bob Satchwell Society of Editors
16. Prof Ben Bowling Dickson Poon School of Law
17. Peter Jukes Media consultant
18. Tom Gash Institute for Government
19. Chris Green Merseyside Police
20. Mick Creedon National Lead Organised Crime
21. John Dilworth Crown Prosecution Services
22. Dr Bethan Lofthouse Centre for Criminology
23. Shaun Sawyer Devon and Cornwall Police

We have learnt that The members of the panel are unpaid volunteers and are not part of the formal Governance structures of the College of Policing.

We now know the Terms of Reference of the panel;

This group will review, challenge and provide feedback on the standards for undercover policing. It will also consider the leadership, management and supervisory frameworks and the way undercover policing is presented to the wider public. It will identify what evidence might assist in developing future practice. Members will support each other in the challenge process.

It will aim to

• Improve public confidence in the use of undercover policing tactics.
• Identify lessons from operations (not live ones), public inquiries or reviews, and make recommendations to the police service on how they should be addressed.
• Review and assess new and emerging undercover policing standards against tests of proportionality and necessity as well as wider judgements of social acceptability and practical applicability.
• Review the evidence base for good and effective practice in undercover policing including cost/benefit analysis.
• Advise on such issues as the ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ policy, Agent Provocateur, Intelligence Deployments and other potentially sensitive or contentious areas.
• Make suggestions about the areas of undercover policing that merit deeper research or analysis.
• Assist in, and guide, the way undercover policing is described and presented to the wider public and consider how wider views and feedback might be gathered from victims of crime, practitioners and those affected by undercover policing.
We have now seen their first set of Minutes, please note this are not the Minutes of their first meeting, but their SECOND.
We have learnt that they had a third meeting in February, but we have not seen any Minutes for that meeting yet.
Most worryingly, we have had it confirmed that all Non-Police members of the Scrutiny Panel will not be subject to the Code of Ethics.
College screengrab 1Reinforced by
College screengrab 2
Most amusingly we have learnt that somebody has attempted to launch a government e-petition in an attempt to get Sophie’s appointment to the panel reversed, but it was rejected due to the inclusion of the word ‘Appointment‘.
We have learnt that the appointment of Sue Mounstevens to the panel was made at exactly the same time that she was being investigated for her ‘serious error of judgement‘ in telling Nick Gargan the identity of the person(s) who had made allegations against him.  We know that she did this because an enquiry has subsequently found that she did and she has apologised for it.
We have also learnt that the Right Honourable Theresa May MP has also commissioned an enquiry looking into the area of Undercover Policing, and that the College Panel are aware of this as it’s referred to in the Minutes of their October meeting.
We know that the College are not awfully keen to answer questions put to them about the appointment of Sophie Khan in particular, and eventually went completely silent on the matter.

So, all in all, I think it’s safe to say that we have learnt that the College are either naive in extremis, or simply arrogant and don’t give a stuff for the morale of the Front Line, Public Expenditure (duplication of effort?) and the vetting (or lack of) participants on their panel, who I assume will have access to some sensitive information at some time (not a live op I realise that, but damage can still be done), bearing in mind that Sophie Khan’s Raison d’etre is to sue the Police. “Good Night all. I’m off to bed. Will be dreaming about suing the police as always. Sweet dreams to you all. I love my job so much :)

I’ll leave you to decide which it is, but suffice to say I’m glad it doesn’t involve me directly, and I can only imagine the thoughts of those officers expected to subscribe to this nonsense.

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