It is alarming that a Metropolitan police undercover surveillance unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), targeted Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) and serves as a reminder of the levels of corruption and misuse of power within the police that we have tirelessly campaigned against for years.
Our work supporting victims of police misconduct, racist violence and assisting the grieving relatives and friends of black people who died in police custody has contributed significantly to greater police accountability, transparency and racial equality in the UK. The police have actively sought to stop, disrupt or discredit this work and the people who support it.
Attempts to mitigate against negative publicity using unethical policing methods are indisinguishable from the sanctioning of a cover-up. For the police to continue in this manner only deepens concern that institutional racism remains engrained within the police.
Whilst the limited information in the Guardian report suggests NMP was never infiltrated directly, it nevertheless raises severe concerns that we do not have the full facts and the confidential nature of our casework might have been compromised. We demand, for the sake of transparency, that the name of the second SDS officer who was responsible for spying on NMP is made public immediately.
We are appalled that campaigns we have advised and aided that were run by bereaved families struggling for justice for their loved ones after a death in police custody may have been targeted for covert surveillance.
We join with others calling for a genuinely independent inquiry – not an investigation conducted by the police themselves – into all the allegations about the conduct of the Special Demonstration Squad. We have a right to know whether someone we worked with in good faith deliberately misrepresented themselves and to receive answers about the extent of their interference to consider appropriate further action.