The BBC drama "Undercover" starring Adrian Lester and Sophie Okonedo the the story of a defense lawyer, who tries to uncover the truth behind a miscarriage of justice and marries an undercover police operative (UCO) investigating the case she is working on.
The program highlighted the dangers and issues faced by many women in the UK — those who have married an undercover officer, who was sent to spy on them or others in their circle. The impact of relationships between UCOs and their surveillance targets can have lasting effects, which often leave the women with major psychological problems.
The different levels of online undercover work carried out by UK police pic.twitter.com/9e1x7r5WYX— Joseph Cox (@josephfcox) June 29, 2016
For the first time, the College of Policing has issued guidance, which outlines that it is now wrong for a undercover police officer to form any type of sexual or intimate relationship with those who they are employed to infiltrate.
An important step forward in professionalising UC work in line with other policing tactics. https://t.co/kda6sNUr6d— Chap About Town (@DreyfusChris) June 29, 2016
The guidance was introduced in order to protect the public and bring criminals to justice. After a six week consultation the final version will be released later on this year.
"It is never acceptable for a UCO to form an intimate sexual relationship with those they are employed to infiltrate and target or may encounter during their deployment. This conduct will never be authorized, nor must it ever be used as a tactic of a deployment," the draft guidance says.
Two Types of UCOs
An undercover foundation operative carries out low-level infiltration that does not require the ability to withstand intense scrutiny by people who are potentially suspicious. For example, buying drugs on the street.
Undercover officers are vital in our fight to cut serious & organised crime. See guidance & respond as appropriate https://t.co/357JwgMBX6— Lynne Owens (@NCA_LynneOwens) June 29, 2016
An undercover advanced operative is trained to undertake deployments involving higher-level infiltrations and they must be able to withstand intense scrutiny from anyone who may be suspicious. For example, counterterrorism missions.
"Undercover policing is an essential tactic used by police forces to protect the public, save lives and bring serious and organized criminals to justice. The job of an undercover operative is dangerous so any authorization 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," College of Policing CEO, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said in a statement.