Undercover policing

Building on previous events the Centre has co-organised with The Monitoring Group, this ongoing project is examining a range of issues around the undercover policing of political groups in the UK.


The infiltration of protest groups and social movements has been a police tactic since at least 1968 – although its existence was only publicly revealed in 2010. Police officers often spent five years undercover in over 1,000 social movements, Black justice campaigns and political organisations.

Undercover policing has become a matter considerable public interest, reflected for instance by the establishment of the current public inquiry.

The information which has emerged about undercover policing raises fundamental and to date, unaddressed, questions about:

The scale and intentions of these operations.
The ability of the police to police themselves.
The legitimacy of this type of covert policing.


In a project funded by The Network for Social Change, Helen Mills authored a report in 2017 on the views of spying victims about the public inquiry and current accountability processes.

You can find this report, The undercover policing of political protest, here.

From November 2017, in partnership with the Amiel and Melburn Trust, a one-year Research Fellow, Connor Woodman, will be working on a number of projects around the issue:

Monitoring the Undercover Policing Inquiry.
Writing a briefing on the history of political policing in the UK, the ideology of ‘subversion’ and ‘domestic extremism’ and the wider context for the undercover policing operations.
Public engagement and awareness-raising around the issue.

You can find his latest articles on undercover policing here:

'The great undercover policing cover-up', December 3, 2017

'A brick wall of silence: the latest from the Undercover Policing Inquiry', February 7, 2018

We intend to help build a broad public audience for informed thinking about undercover policing as the public inquiry into these practices continues.

For more information contact Connor Woodman.

Supported by Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust.