Nottingham, 24 February 2012
Software developer, ABM, has unveiled a new system that helps police forces and law enforcement agencies to improve the way that they manage undercover operations. The software responds to many of the issues highlighted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) following the case of PC Mark Kennedy, the undercover officer who spent several years infiltrating a group of environmental activists who planned to break in to the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire.
The HMIC report found that issues concerning the management of Kennedy ultimately led to a miscarriage of justice against the environmental protesters. HMIC reviewed administrative processes, handling of undercover officers by supervisors and management of intelligence and found that there was room for improvement, outlining four key recommendations.
Despite these problems, HMIC noted that Kennedy provided useful intelligence in a number of other operations, helping to convict violent and disruptive protesters that would otherwise have caused untold harm to the public and society. Undercover operations are crucial to maintaining the safe society that we live in. However, police forces and law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to ensure that justice is administered fairly and that people’s human rights are not unduly contravened.
ABM has worked with police forces over many years to support compliant and effective operational procedures for the management of covert operations. The latest development, abmpegasus Undercover, directly addresses many of HMIC’s concerns over policy and procedure, incorporating features for the following:
By implementing abmpegasus Undercover, police forces can support robust procedures, reducing the potential for mismanagement of undercover operations and officers. This helps to improve efficiency and protect the interests of the police force as well as protecting the human rights and welfare of officers and members of the public.
Tim Eatherington, managing director of ABM, concludes: “I hope that police forces will be keen to adopt the new system which aims to prevent reoccurrence of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Mark Kennedy case. ABM is pleased to support the valuable work that police forces do to keep us safe and our country running smoothly.”
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About the Mark Kennedy Case:
In April 2009 114 environmental activists were arrested by police under suspicion of planning to commit aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe-on-Soar’s coal-fired power station. 20 protesters were convicted at Nottingham Crown Court on 14th December 2010. The convicted protesters appealed against the decision and on 19th July 2011 the convictions were quashed as a result off the prosecution’s failure to disclose evidence that would have been useful to the defence. The evidence that was not disclosed concerned the involvement of PC Mark Kennedy who was subsequently found to have gone further than authorised in his involvement with the environmental activists. The appeal summary (Barkshire and Others -v- R) stated:
“In short, it appears that he [Mark Kennedy] played what can fairly be described, in the submission of Mr Matthew Ryder QC on behalf of the appellants, “a significant role in assisting, advising and supporting…the very activity for which these appellants were prosecuted”.” (http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/barkshire-others-v-r.pdf)
HMIC published a report in 2012 entitled “A review of national police units which provide intelligence on criminality associated with protest” which reviews the use of undercover tactics and governance. It set out four recommendations to improve the way the police undercover operations are managed. The report can be found at http://www.hmic.gov.uk/publication/review-of-national-police-units-which-provide-intelligence-on-criminality-associated-with-protest-20120202/
The IPCC was commissioned by Nottinghamshire Police on 11th January 2011 to investigate the issues of disclosure and misconduct. This investigation is currently ongoing.