Reforming the Met Police: A Call for Disbandment

The recent publication of the findings from the Undercover Policing Inquiry into undercover policing by the Metropolitan Police has sent shockwaves through society.

The report focuses on the activities of the secretive Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) between 1968 and 1982, highlighting grave abuses of power and a lack of justification for their actions. These revelations underscore the urgent need for reform within the Met Police and raise questions about whether the organisation should be disbanded altogether.

Unjustified Spying and Intrusion:
The report unequivocally states that the spying carried out by the SDS was not justified, and the unit should have been shut down. This conclusion comes as no surprise given the magnitude of the intrusions into the personal lives of innocent individuals. Undercover officers infiltrated left-wing and anarchist groups, assuming positions of responsibility and engaging in political activities. They went as far as using the identities of deceased children without their families consent. Such practices are indefensible and represent a gross violation of civil liberties.

Lack of Oversight and Accountability:
The report highlights significant failures in the oversight and accountability mechanisms that should have governed the SDS's operations. The unit required authorisation and funding approval from the Home Office, but key issues were overlooked, including the long-term undercover deployments and the intrusion into the lives of countless individuals. Moreover, the use of deceased children's identities should have been escalated to the highest ranks of the Met and the Home Office. The lack of proper consideration and supervision enabled these abuses to persist unchecked for years.

The Case for Disbandment:
Chairman Sir John Mitting's statement that the SDS would have been swiftly brought to an end if its activities had been made public in the 1970s is a powerful indictment of the unit's actions. It raises serious doubts about the Met Police's ability to self-regulate and prevent such abuses from occurring. The infiltration of only three out of the many groups targeted by the SDS was deemed justifiable, highlighting the disproportionate nature of their actions. The ends, in this case, clearly did not justify the means.

Reforming the Met Police:
The undercover policing scandal is not an isolated incident but part of a broader pattern of misconduct within the Met Police. Over the years, there have been numerous cases of corruption, abuse of power, and discriminatory practices. It is evident that piecemeal reforms and promises of greater oversight are insufficient. A complete overhaul of the organisation is necessary to restore public trust and ensure the protection of citizens' rights.

Establishing a New Model:
Disbanding the current Metropolitan Police force may be a radical step, but it could be the only way to rebuild a police service that truly serves and protects the community. The establishment of a new model based on principles of transparency, accountability, and community engagement is crucial. The recruitment and training of officers must prioritise empathy, cultural sensitivity, and respect for civil liberties. External oversight bodies with real authority should be created to ensure that abuses are swiftly identified and addressed.

The revelations from the undercover policing inquiry paint a damning picture of the Metropolitan Police's actions and expose a systemic failure to protect civil liberties and uphold the rule of law. While some may argue for incremental reforms, the scale and gravity of the misconduct demand more radical measures. Disbanding the Met Police and establishing a new model that prioritises accountability, transparency, and community engagement is a necessary step toward rebuilding public trust and creating a police force that truly serves and protects all members of society. Only through such transformative change can we prevent the recurrence of these deeply troubling abuses.

Read the interim report in full now