Cooperation of Avon & Somerset Constabulary with Operation Herne, HMIC and other official agencies investigating the use of undercover police units

The request was successful.

Dear Avon and Somerset Constabulary,

Please release any information that the Constabulary holds in relation to the following matters:

1: Any cooperation extended to Operation Herne, HMIC or any other official agencies in relation to the use of MPS ‘Special Demonstration Squad’/‘Special Duties Section’/SDS undercover officers within the A&SC force area;

2: In particular, any information proffered to Operation Herne, HMIC or any other official agencies regarding legal liabilities possibly incurred by A&SC by permitting SDS officers to be put before the courts under their false identities;

3: Details of any internal discussions, briefings etc within A&SC in respect of possible legal issues (including liability) arising out of the deployment of undercover officers by extra-force units such as SDS within the force area;

4: Details of the officer or employee liaising between A&SC and Operation Herne, HMIC or any other official agencies investigating the issue of undercover police units and the use of false covert identities.

Redacted documents would be acceptable, but it should be noted that there could not reasonably be any exemption available to publicly acknowledging cooperation (or refusal of cooperation) with a legally-constituted investigation into an issue facing considerable public scrutiny.

Yours faithfully,

David Cinzano

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

 

 

 

 

 

Corporate Information Management Department

Force Headquarters, PO Box 37, Valley Road,

Portishead, Bristol, BS20 8QJ

Facsimile 01275 814667

    

 

Private Our Reference 274/14

David Cinzano Your reference  

[FOI #201531 email] Date 11^th March 2014

 

Dear Mr Cinzano,

 

I write in connection with your request for information dated 11^th March
2014 relating to Operation Herne. This request will be dealt with under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Your request will now be considered and you will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act. In some
circumstances, Avon and Somerset Constabulary may be unable to achieve
this deadline if consideration needs to be given to the public interest
test. If this is likely, you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

C Quartey

 

Freedom of Information Officer

Corporate Information Management Department

 

Please note;

1.     Requests and responses may be published on Avon and Somerset
Constabulary’s website (within 24 hours), some of which may contain a link
to additional information, which may provide you with further
clarification.

2.     Whilst we may verbally discuss your request with you in order to
seek clarification, all other communication should be made in writing.

3.     Avon and Somerset Constabulary provides you with the right to
request a re-examination of your case under its review procedure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Corporate Information Management Department

Force Headquarters, PO Box 37, Valley Road,

Portishead, Bristol, BS20 8QJ

Facsimile 01275 814667

Private

David Cinzano
[FOI #201531 email]      Our Reference   274/14 
        Your reference         
        Date    07 April 2014  

Dear Mr Cinzano

I write in connection with your request for information dated 11^th March
concerning Operation Herne.

I regret to inform you that Avon and Somerset Constabulary have not been
able to complete its response to your request by the date originally
stated. 

The FOI Act obliges us to respond to requests promptly and in any case no
later than 20 working days after receiving the request.  We must consider
firstly whether we can comply with S1(1)(a) of the Act, which is our duty
to confirm whether or not the information requested is held, and secondly
we must comply with S1(1)(b) which is the provision of such information. 
However when a qualified exemption applies either to the confirmation or
denial or the information provision and the public interest test is
engaged, the Act allows the time for a response to be longer than 20
working days, if the balance of such public interest is undetermined. 

In this case we have not yet reached a decision on where the balance of
the public interest lies in respect of either of the above obligations.  I
now advise you that the amended date for a response is no later than 9^th
May. I can assure you that every effort will be made to ensure an
appropriate response will be made within this new timescale.

May I apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your
request.

Yours sincerely

R Pritchard

Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Information Management Department

Please note;

 1. Requests and responses may be published on Avon and Somerset
Constabulary’s website (within 24 hours), some of which may
contain a link to additional information, which may provide
you with further clarification.
 2. Whilst we may verbally discuss your request with you in order
to seek clarification, all other communication should be made
in writing.
 3. Avon and Somerset Constabulary provides you with the right to
request a re-examination of your case under its review
procedure.

 

show quoted sections

Dear R Pritchard,

Thank you for letting me know that there would be a delay - do you have any idea when you may be able to fully respond to this request, as the amended response date you suggested has also now passed by.

Yours sincerely,

David Cinzano

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Good Afternoon Mr Cinzano
You are quite right, your response was due to be with you Friday, however I am awaiting the final sign off's prior to my reply. I anticipate this will be later today, or possibly tomorrow.

Thank you for your patients, this will be with you as soon as possible.

Rebecca

show quoted sections

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Dear Mr Cinzano

 

Although a response has been prepared for you, additional information
concerning this request has come to light. I can therefore advise that
your response will be sent to you as soon as possible.

 

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in this request.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

C Quartey

 

Freedom of Information Officer

Corporate Information Management Department

 

 

show quoted sections

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

3 Attachments

Corporate Information Management Department

Force Headquarters, PO Box 37, Valley Road,

Portishead, Bristol, BS20 8QJ

Facsimile 01275 814667

Email [email address]

Private
David Cinzano
[FOI #201531 email]      Our Reference   274/14 
        Your reference         
        Date    19 May 2014    

Dear Mr Cinzano

I write in connection with your request for information dated 11^th March
concerning any co-operation by Avon and Somerset Constabulary extended to
Operation Herne.   My apologies for the delay in our response. 

Specifically you asked:

1: Any cooperation extended to Operation Herne, HMIC or any other official
agencies in relation to the use of MPS ‘Special Demonstration
Squad’/‘Special Duties Section’/SDS undercover officers within the A&SC
force area;

2: In particular, any information proffered to Operation Herne, HMIC or
any other official agencies regarding legal liabilities possibly incurred
by A&SC by permitting SDS officers to be put before the courts under their
false identities;

3: Details of any internal discussions, briefings etc within A&SC in
respect of possible legal issues (including liability) arising out of the
deployment of undercover officers by extra-force units such as SDS within
the force area;

4: Details of the officer or employee liaising between A&SC and Operation
Herne, HMIC or any other official agencies investigating the issue of
undercover police units and the use of false covert identities.

We have co-operated fully with Op Herne and HMIC with regard to their
current work streams. As per the attached letter from the Chief Constable
we are not aware of any deployments involving those units listed within
our force area.  As no deployments took place there are no legal
liabilities or details of any briefings. 

ACC Louisa Rolfe is Head of Protected services for the Force therefore is
our Single Point of contact for Op Herne and HMIC on this type of issue.

<<T May letter 3.7.2013.pdf>> <<CC GARGAN response to TM 2013.pdf>>

Yours sincerely

C Quartey

Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Information Management Department

Please note:

 1. Requests and responses may be published on Avon and Somerset
Constabulary’s website (within 24 hours), some of which may
contain a link to additional information, which may provide
you with further clarification.
 2. Whilst we may verbally discuss your request with you in order
to seek clarification, all other communication should be made
in writing.
 3. Avon and Somerset Constabulary provides you with the right to
request a re-examination of your case under its review
procedure (copy attached).

<<A&S Appeals Procedure.doc>>

 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Quartey,

Firstly, thank you for your reply of 19 May.

However, I note that your response answers a question which I did not ask, and in large part does not answer the questions that I did ask.

The A&SC response focuses on the force's database searches with specific regard to the use of CHIS in relation to Stephen Lawrence, his family, his murder, the murder investigation and the Macpherson Inquiry.

I note that in Ch Cons Gargan's reply on 10 July 2013 to Home Secretary May's Perm Sec he states: “We have established the existence of relevent archive records and searched them manually. We have also identified and spoken with key staff, particularly those in leadership positions in 1998.”

This indicates that A&SC has material relevant to this request to hand.

I would be most grateful if you could release this material forthwith.

Considerations weighing in favour of release, alongside increasing public confidence in policing and increasing transparency of policing are:

* The passage of time - 16 years - mitigates concerns over the possible disclosure of still-in-use tradecraft and tactics
--given that the SDS unit has been defunct since 2008
--given that, as the 2012 HMIC report notes, SDS's training, tactics, review and integration differed greatly from less inward-looking successor units, such as NPOIU, which professionalised CHIS work methods in many respects
--given that much of the tradecraft and many of the tactics employed by SDS have been revealed by former SDS or Special Branch officers themselves since the Clutterbuck thesis and ‘True Spies’ documentary series (both 2002) ;

* The requested information relates to A&SC's cooperation or liaison with an external organisation, and can in no way be inferred as an endorsement by the force of any practices that the third party may have been involved with;

* The mitigation of any perceived excessive cost associated with searching for the material, because the material has already been identified and located per the orders of the Home Secretary;

* The relevant (retired) officers from 1998 have, according to Ch Cons Gargan, “been very keen to assist”, indicating that they may well be amenable to the release of the material, and offer no DP concerns.

I look forward to hearing back from you on this.

Yours sincerely,

David Cinzano

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

1 Attachment

Corporate Information Management Department

Force Headquarters, PO Box 37, Valley Road,

Portishead, Bristol, BS20 8QJ

Facsimile 01275 814667

Email foirequests@avonandsomerset.police.uk    

 

 

 

 

Private Our Reference 274/14

David Cinzano Your reference  

[1][FOI #201531 email] Date 07 July 2014

 

 

Dear Mr Cinzano,

 

I am writing with regard to your e mail dated the 9^th June. I have read
your message and reviewed our response to you dated 19^th May. I apologise
if there was any ambiguity in our response and I hope the following
information will clarify the Constabularies position. 

 

Within your original request you asked for information relating to the
following:

 

1: Any cooperation extended to Operation Herne, HMIC or any other official
agencies in relation to the use of MPS ‘Special Demonstration
Squad’/‘Special Duties Section’/SDS undercover officers within the A&SC
force area.

 

I can confirm that Avon and Somerset Constabulary has co-operated fully
with operation Herne, HMIC and the Home office.  Through a review
undertaken as part of this cooperation it was found that the Constabulary
has not deployed any undercover officers from the units as listed above
according to our records which date from 2001. We can confirm that there
are no records held either electronically or on paper for the deployment
of any undercover officers prior to 2001. 

 

As a result, this was the extent of our cooperation and no further
information is held.  The only documentation that was identified relating
to this cooperation were the two documents provided to you in our initial
response.

 

 2: In particular, any information proffered to Operation Herne, HMIC or 
any other official agencies regarding legal liabilities possibly incurred 
by A&SC by permitting SDS officers to be put before the courts under
their  false identities;

 

As a result of the review detailed above the Constabulary has not
identified any legal liabilities as described above.

 

3: Details of any internal discussions, briefings etc within A&SC in 
respect of possible legal issues (including liability) arising out of the 
deployment of undercover officers by extra-force units such as SDS within 
the force area;

 

As no such deployments have been undertaken by the Constabulary no
discussions or briefings relating to possible legal issues relating to the
deployment of SDS officers have taken place.

 

4: Details of the officer or employee liaising between A&SC and Operation
Herne, HMIC or any other official agencies investigating the issue of
undercover police units and the use of false covert identities.

 

ACC Louisa Rolfe is the head of Specialist Operations for the force and
therefore is the single point of contact with Operation Herne and the HMIC
on this type of issue.

 

We note within your comments that you make reference to the Chief
Constable’s letter and the fact it refers to “relevant archive records”
the section highlighted refers to records that may have contained
information relevant to the request made by the Home Secretary not records
relevant specifically to the subject of SDS deployments.  The Constabulary
holds a vast numbers of records across a wide range of business areas as
would be expected in such an organisation.  In this instance we reviewed
all existing archive records and found none relevant to undercover
operations involving SDS officers.  The contact mentioned within the Chief
Constable’s letter with staff was not because we found records of relevant
operations but due to our knowledge of who had previously led relevant
teams & units and as such may have been able to help with the review.

 

I trust this clarifies the points raised, however if this does not then of
course you may submit a request for an internal review.

 

Yours sincerely

 

R Pritchard

 

Freedom of Information Officer

Corporate Information Management Department

 

 

Please note:

1.     Requests and responses may be published on Avon and Somerset
Constabulary’s website (within 24 hours), some of which may contain a link
to additional information, which may provide you with further
clarification.

2.     Whilst we may verbally discuss your request with you in order to
seek clarification, all other communication should be made in writing.

3.     Avon and Somerset Constabulary provides you with the right to
request a re-examination of your case under its review procedure (copy
attached).

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms/Mr Pritchard,

Thank you for your message of 7 July.

You have now answered most of the questions I asked - but I feel that there remains the need to further clarify your answers on 2 points.

At (1) I asked about “the use of MPS ‘Special Demonstration Squad’/‘Special Duties Section’/SDS undercover officers within the A&SC force area”, you responded that “it was found that the Constabulary has not deployed any undercover officers from the units as listed above.”

It should first be noted that only one unit is being referred to, known at various times as ‘Special Operations Squad’, ‘Special Demonstration Squad’ and ‘Special Duties Section’ and generally referred to as ‘SDS’. This was a Metropolitan Police unit throughout its life from 1968 until 2008. Therefore Avon & Somerset Constabulary would never have deployed any SDS officers - and nor was that the question asked.

For the sake of clarity, the question is did the Metropolitan Police ever deploy SDS officers within the Avon & Somerset force area; if so was this with the knowledge or cooperation of A&SC; and if so has the relevant information about this been shared with Herne, HMIC and other official agencies.

Apologies for dragging this out, but I feel it is an important issue where clarity is paramount.

Kind regards,

David Cinzano

#Freedom of Information Requests, Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Mr Cinzano

Thank you for your email.
To clarify we have no record, or knowledge, of any deployment of this unit within our force area.

I hope this clarifies this point you have raised.

Kind regards
Rebecca

show quoted sections

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your brief and to the point clarification, much appreciated!

Kind regards,

Dave

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org