Those of you who follow me here are possibly aware that I hankered on a dream to be a journalist when I was still at school.
Maths was my worst subject at school. I hated the ‘Mole,’ the nickname for our teacher. The name was appropriate. He looked like a mole but where those creatures are cute, he was not.
I found out that I would not be accepted for university as a stepping stone to my dream career because of my inability to pass my GCE in Maths. Ironic then, that in my forties I graduated in law narrowly missing a few extra marks to end up with a first class distinction. I was happy with my 2:1 grade.
Through my writing in recent times, I have been accepted as a contributor to the News Hub. My first article has just been published there.
Click on this link and you can read it there. I reproduce it below but I ask that you please click the link. Why? This publication has a system of payment that is powered by social sharing. The more views my article has, the more I am paid (it’s not a fortune).
The original contains links to various pieces of information that some of you may be interested in. That is another good reason to click through to the original article.
So I ask for one simple thing – please click through and read it there. Please tell your friends (even your enemies) and ask them to do the same – ‘rinse and repeat’ 🙂
And please don’t forget you can get your FREE eBook ‘What it’s Really Like to be an Undercover Cop’ by using the Gumroad box below.
The News Hub is interesting and carries articles over a wide range of subjects. For those of you interested in miscarriages of justice (and if you are not, I suggest you should), there is a fascinating story about Jeremy Bamber convicted of murdering his family in 1986.
I say you “should” because wrongful conviction can happen to anyone. It is the major reason I have always been opposed to capital punishment. “Oops! Sorry we executed you. We made a mistake!” A grave (deliberate pun) crime on the part of the state.
Now undercover cops must stick to the EU Working Time Directive
That picture is me back in 1976. I was undercover; one of only four undercover cops on the UK’s Operation Julie, one of the world’s largest drugs busts. Undercover police and policing are never far away from the headlines. My story is dated but remains topical. Only a few weeks ago the BBC reported “Undercover police ‘rulebook’ published for first time.” I read the report and the UK’s College of Policing guidance with astonishment. Current undercover operatives are unable to speak out for obvious reasons. I am not their self-appointed spokesperson but someone has to say something.
The guidance filled me with relief that I operated ‘back in the day,’ with procedures straight from ‘Life on Mars,’ the popular TV series. Several issues became rapidly apparent to me on a first reading of this undercover police ‘rulebook.’ The first was an overwhelming impression that this 80-page document had been drafted by academics. It was completely out of touch with the harsh realities of undercover police work. This, no better exemplified than the total ban on undercover cops using drugs. Not only is that activity prohibited, it will be enforced by random drug tests, disciplinary action and the threat of criminal prosecution.
Allow me to pause there. I infiltrated, together with my undercover partner, not only one drugs gang but two. The second was a plot to import vast quantities of cocaine into Britain from Bolivia. As part of that infiltration, I posed as a dealer in cannabis. I showed a substantial amount of hash to reinforce my credentials. I have never known a hash dealer who did not sample his product. I did, many times. That would have left me open to sanctions according to the new ‘rulebook.’
The undercover police ‘rulebook’ also gives guidance on welfare and fatigue. Both are important within the context of this vocation. Yet, once more my jaw dropped in disbelief when I read the exhortation for UCO’s (undercover operatives) to pay heed to the Working Time Directive, a piece of European Union legislation.
When you operate undercover as a deep infiltrator, you are de facto another person. You are ‘living a lie.’ It involves working away from home for weeks, months or even years. It strikes me as ludicrous to invoke this law in reference to undercover police work. Lorry drivers, yes. Undercover cops? No! Perhaps another sign that the ‘rulebook’ was drafted by academics?
Most of this new guidance is misguided. I welcome the fact that UCO’s must now be assessed by mental health professionals to ensure their well-being. Working undercover leads to immense mental stress. I also welcome the fact there is now training for these operatives, something that was absent in my day. The proposals in the guidance have been made public. I understand the rationale behind that but I ask – why so much detail? Why mention things like ‘legend building,’ ‘back-stopping,’ and other sensitive issues. The less the criminal mind knows, the better. But, maybe that is now an antiquated thought?
The whole exercise of publishing this undercover police ‘rulebook’ smacks of a ‘covering of backsides’ maneuver. One designed to avoid criticism during the UK’s Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). This Inquiry, chaired by Sir Christopher Pitchford was established in the wake of some high-profile undercover police wrongdoings. Perhaps the leading example of unacceptable undercover police practice was that of the Mark Kennedy case.
That former undercover Metropolitan Police Service cop had a sexual relationship with a woman and fathered a child, all in the furtherance of his undercover role. It wasn’t a one-off fling but a lengthy relationship. I find that abhorrent. It is strange in life how one, or at the most, a few bad apples spoil the party for all concerned. These excesses now seem likely to blight undercover policing with a bureaucratic regime that will surely stifle the effectiveness of covert operations.
Undercover police and law enforcement work is one of the trinity of tools deployed to combat organized crime and terrorists. The others are surveillance and good old-fashioned routine detective skills. The academics behind policy documents like the UK undercover police guidance must not hold sway. There is no place for ‘political correctness’ in this gladiatorial arena.
Give me the ‘Life on Mars’ any time!