MPs call for root-and branch overhaul of RIPA

01 March 2013

The Home Affairs Committee published its report ‘Undercover Policing: Interim Report’ on Friday 1 March 2013 (Thirteenth Report, Session 2012–13, HC 837).

The Committee calls for a fundamental review of the law governing undercover police operations, including the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The Committee recommends the publication of a consultation paper before the next election, with a view to publishing draft legislation at the beginning of the next Parliament.


The Committee finds:

  • There is an unsatisfactory degree of ambiguity in the current legal framework governing undercover operations.
  • The current legislation “fails adequately to safeguard the fundamental rights of the individuals affected”
  • The use of the identities of dead children to create cover identities for undercover officers could potentially have put bereaved families at risk. There should be a full and unambiguous apology from the forces concerned to the families and the practice should never be followed in future.
  • Operation Herne, which is investigating these allegations, has already cost £1.2million and has not yet made any arrests. It should be brought to a conclusion as swiftly as possible, so that families and victims involved can achieve closure.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

“The impact of the conduct of undercover officers on the women with whom they had relationships has been devastating, and it represents a wholly improper degree of intrusion by the state into the lives of individuals. We are not satisfied that the current legislative framework, which rests largely on RIPA, provides adequate protection against police infiltration into ordinary peoples’ lives—a far more intrusive form of surveillance than any listening device or hidden camera.

Equally shocking has been the revelation of the ghoulish and disrespectful practice of undercover officers looking to develop cover stories plundering the identities of dead infants. We heard of one case where a bereaved family might have come face-to-face with a woman who believed that their dead child was her former partner. Operation Herne must now be brought to a swift conclusion so that these allegations can finally be put to rest and a full and unambiguous apology be made to the families concerned.”

Further information

  • About Parliament: Select Committees
  • Visiting Parliament: Watch committees
    • Image: iStockphoto

      More news on: Crime, civil law, justice and rights, Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, Emergency services, Police, Crime, Commons news, Committee news

      Share this page