Acpo defends use of undercover officers amid new claims

Jon Murphy Chief Constable Jon Murphy: "Sometimes things go wrong"

Police chiefs have defended the use of undercover officers to infiltrate environmental protest groups.

But Jon Murphy, the Acpo spokesman on serious and organised crime, said it was not acceptable for them to have relationships with their targets.

The Guardian newspaper claimed on Thursday that an undercover officer married a protester and had children.

Three investigations have been launched into the activities of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

They follow the collapse of a prosecution of eco-activists in Nottinghamshire, a group which had been infiltrated by undercover officer Mark Kennedy.

Self-regulating

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) did not want to comment on specific cases.

But Mr Murphy, who is Merseyside's chief constable, said some of the people the officers monitored "are intent on causing harm, committing crime and on occasions disabling parts of the national critical infrastructure".

"That has the potential to deny utilities to hospitals, schools, businesses and your granny."

He went on to say that the police were self-regulating in this area and "did a good job of it".

But he added: "Sometimes things go wrong - it is a volatile area of police work."

'Diversion'

Mr Murphy said officers were not permitted "under any circumstances" to sleep with activists. "It is grossly unprofessional. It is a diversion from what they are there to do," he said.

The Guardian gives details of what it says is the fourth officer known to have infiltrated eco-activist groups. It claims the man, still a serving Metropolitan Police officer, had joined the Reclaim the Streets protest group.

It says he had a relationship with one of the members. They later married and had two children before divorcing.

A spokesman for the Met said the allegations "are not something we discuss".

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