British police chief uncertain on undercover sexual relations

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe says rules against police mole intimacy cannot stop human failings

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said the Metropolitan Police force has guidelines that say police moles should not get involved in sexual relationships, but that the rules cannot prevent “human beings failing”. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said the Metropolitan Police force has guidelines that say police moles should not get involved in sexual relationships, but that the rules cannot prevent “human beings failing”. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 16:53

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner in Britain has said he cannot be sure whether undercover officers are still getting involved in sexual relationships with partners who do not know their true identities.

Eight women are currently taking legal action against the force over claims that they were duped into relationships in the past.

During questioning at London City Hall today, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the force has guidelines that say police moles should not get involved in sexual relationships, but that the rules cannot prevent “human beings failing”.

He told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee: “We have a policy that says that our officers should not engage in sexual activity with targets or anyone else they meet, or a victim, while they are serving as a police officer.

“We think there is a need for transparency in this area which is highly sensitive.

“Any policy cannot prevent human beings sometimes failing. What we need to know is if that should happen, an individual does have sexual activity, that their manager knows and will react to that.”

Intimate relationships

Sir Bernard, Britain’s most senior police officer, said he could not be sure whether officers have continued to get involved in intimate relationships during his two years as commissioner.

When asked whether it is happening now, he said: “Our policy says it shouldn’t, but can I be absolutely confident that it’s never happened during my time as commissioner? I can’t say that.

“What I can tell you is that we’ve got things in place via supervision and monitoring to make our best attempt to make it clear to our officers that it shouldn’t, and if it does, to tell us.

“I’m confident in that, but I cannot be absolutely sure that there has not been the odd digression, or that there won’t be in the future. But I do know that there’s less chance of it now than there was 20 years ago.”

Legal action was started in December 2011 against the Metropolitan Police on behalf of the eight women who claim they were deceived into having long-term intimate relationships with undercover police officers.

It is claimed five undercover officers who were engaged in infiltrating environmental campaign groups between the mid-1980s and 2010 had relationships with the women lasting from seven months to nine years.

Bob Lambert, John Dines, Jim Boyling, Mark Cassidy and Mark Kennedy have been named as the alleged undercover officers.

Press Association