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College of Policing to accredit undercover police units

APP for undercover personnel has been made public for the first time
Published - 28/06/2016 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

The College of Policing wants to introduce a system of accreditation for undercover policing which could be withdrawn from forces in the event of failures to comply with the body’s suggestions.

The organisation is today outlining new proposals for authorised professional practice for undercover policing - the first such time that it is being made publicly accessible.

The new guidance also says undercover operatives can only work once they have been accredited by the professional body, which involves going through a selection process and undergoing vetting and specialist training.

All units that manage undercover operations will be advised to carry out a self-assessment process every three years and registrars will visit the force if there are concerns about the actions of undercover personnel.

Another feature of the APP is that advanced operatives should have regular six monthly psychological assessments, and be approved by a qualified psychologist, who has been vetted prior to the officer’s deployment.

The College says that the officer is also responsible for their own psychological wellbeing and that a failure to notify any issues with the force could constitute misconduct.

In 2014 HMIC warned that some forces were using unqualified psychologists to provide support to undercover personnel, and recommended the six monthly check-ups.

The inspectorate also called for a ten year limit on working as an undercover officer. This has been rejected on the basis that it would not meet the needs of all undercover policing units.

Instead it recommends a “risk-based tenure policy”.

College of Policing CEO Alex Marshall, said: “Undercover policing is an essential tactic used by police forces to protect the public, save lives and bring serious and organised criminals to justice.

“The job of an undercover operative is dangerous so any authorisation must be done by an assistant chief constable and any operation lasting longer than 12 months needs to be approved by the chief constable.

"By publishing the vast majority of the guidance, withholding only operational tactics which would no longer be viable if shared, we want the public to see the measures we have in place to ensure undercover policing is used in a way that is proportionate, lawful and ethical."

The draft guidance can be read here.

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