The UK’s police watchdog has condemned the force’s undercover operations, as a majority of undercover officers are working “off the books” and not on a national database.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) made the criticism in a report published on Tuesday following its first inspection of undercover policing in England and Wales.
According to the watchdog, there are 1,229 undercover officers working across the country; however, the national undercover index has only 568 registered officers.
The HMIC said the discrepancy is “entirely unacceptable” and “renders the database unsuitable to the task for which it was created.”
The report, based on inspections of 43 forces and other organizations, including the National Crime Agency, also denounced the “culture of secrecy” and “closed nature,” calling for a “root and branch” reform of the secretive national group.
Stephen Otter, the HMIC inspector who led the probe, said there were unacceptable inconsistencies and shortcomings within the undercover policing and his team has provided 49 recommendations aimed at improving the operation’s “policies, systems, training and leadership.”
Deputy Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, the national policing lead for undercover policing, responded to the HMIC report, saying it supports the watchdog’s recommendations and is already putting them into effect.
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