On the 20th November the Met Police finally issued an official apology to seven women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover police officers. A landmark moment.
Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt stated that the relationships were ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong’. He also said:
I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. I am aware that money alone cannot compensate the loss of time, their hurt or the feelings of abuse caused by these relationships.
Most importantly, relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity.
I can state that sexual relationships between undercover police officers and members of the public should not happen.
This apology has been hard-fought and represents significant progress. These relationships were not the product of rogue officers, they were systemic. The Met recognised in their statement that there had been ‘failures of supervision and management’. This apology states that such relationships won’t be allowed to happen again in the future.
However, this is just the end of the beginning. There are still many unanswered questions. One of the women, Kate Wilson, is continuing her case against the Metropolitan Police. She told Channel 4 News that she was demanding more information about the police officer that she had a relationship with, particularly how he accounted for his time when, for example, she was on holiday with him:
Were they targeting me? Were they using me to get to the people they were targeting? Was I just a perk of the job?
These questions can really keep you awake at night. The police have made no effort whatsoever to provide any kind of answers to those questions. They’ve apologised but they haven’t answered any of the unanswered questions that people have.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry led by Lord Justice Pitchford is an opportunity to obtain further disclosure and uncover the truth about how undercover police officers spied upon political activists. The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance has called for the police to publish the cover names of all the police officers who have spied on political activists, in order to identify all groups and individuals affected and give them the opportunity to hold the police to account.