Police chiefs are expected to formally apologise for using the names of dead children to create fake identities for undercover officers.
It had been thought that only officers in secret police units such as the Met Police’s Special Demonstration Squad, which was closed in 2008, had adopted dead children’s names as a new identity.
But Operation Herne, an ongoing investigation into the conduct of undercover police, has revealed that the practice was more widespread than originally thought and used by forces across the country.
Standard practice: It had been thought that the practice of using dead children’s names as identities for undercover officers was restricted to Scotland Yard’s Special Demonstrations Squad, but the practice is now said to have been more widespread
According to sources, undercover police officers infiltrating criminal networks and violent gangs were given dead people’s identities as ‘standard practice’, reported The Times.
The technique, which was regularly used in the 1960s and 1990s, is thought to have been last used in 2002.
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But it is thought that the technique was not restricted to police forces with other agencies such as HM Revenue & Customs said to have adopted the practice.
The apology could come as early as this month but police are not expected to contact families of the dead people whose names were used through fear that it could put officers who have taken part in undercover operations in the past in danger.
A way in: Dead children’s identities were used by undercover offices to infiltrate violent gangs and demonstration groups
A source told The Times: ‘This wasn’t an anomaly, it wasn’t something that was used in isolation by just one unit.
‘If you are infiltrating a sophisticated crime group they are going to check who you are, so you need a backstop, a cover story that has real depth and won’t fall over at the first hurdle.
Disapproving: Policing minister Damien Green has expressed his disappointment at the use of dead children’s names by police units
‘The way to do that was to build an identity that was based on a real person.’
It was reported earlier this year that around 80 names were used by officers over a 30 year period.
Set up in 2011, Operation Herne, which is expected to cost around £1.66million a year, will examine the conduct of all ranks of officers and even look at the actions of former Home Secretaries.
Both The Home Affairs Committee and Police minister Damian Green have spoken of their ‘disappointment’ that dead children’s names were used in investigations.
Back in may, Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon admitted that the practice had been widespread
A raft of allegations have been made since former PC Mark Kennedy was unmasked in 2011 as an undercover officer who spied on environmental protesters as Mark ‘Flash’ Stone – and had at least one sexual relationship with a female activist.
The revelation comes before Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe appears before MPs to answer questions over a number of controversies including claims last month that the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence were targeted by undercover officers who were assigned to ‘get dirt’ on them.
Quiz: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will face questions from MPs over a number of controversies
It also emerged that police admitted bugging meetings involving Duwayne Brooks, the friend who was with Stephen the night he was attacked.
The claims affecting Mr Brooks came after former undercover officer Peter Francis alleged that he had been told to find information to use to smear the Lawrence family.
Mr Francis, who worked with Scotland Yard’s former Special Demonstration Squad, spoke out about tactics that he said were used by the secretive unit in the 1980s and 1990s.
Investigation: A raft of allegations have been made since former PC Mark Kennedy was unmasked in 2011 as an undercover officer who spied on environmental protesters as Mark ¿Flash¿ Stone ¿ and had at least one sexual relationship with a female activist
By Steve Nolan
PUBLISHED: 11:07 GMT, 6 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:13 GMT, 6 July 2013
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