An exploration of the issues of accountability and ethicality in undercover policing in England and Wales

Franceschini, Camilla (2016) An exploration of the issues of accountability and ethicality in undercover policing in England and Wales. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    The research undertaken is a critical analysis of the issues of accountability and ethicality in undercover policing in England and Wales. The analysis sought to determine if covert policing tactics in the United Kingdom are implemented ethically and undercover officers are effectively accountable for their actions while on duty. Despite the unanimous opinions of academics and professionals regarding the necessity of the practice in the fight against crime, covert policing is a secretive and deceptive area which can undermine public trust in the law enforcement if it is not kept under strict regulations and oversight. Ethical issues associated to covert policing tactics have been arising in media articles in recent years, with the publishing of covert police officers’ allegations regarding debatably moral actions and techniques adopted within the practice. Nine official documents were thematically analysed to identify issues of accountability and ethicality within undercover policing highlighted by members of different oversight bodies and the British police. Such documents were then compared with information divulged by newspapers regarding the subject. Issues which can jeopardise the accountability and ethicality of the practice identified within the documents included: lack of supervision from senior members of the police and therefore poor performance of authorising officers; statutory confusions regarding the authorisation process and their unrealistic approach to the practice; the involvement of the Government in policing issues and the current debate on the necessity for openness and transparency within the practice; finally, the necessity for the police to evolve and embrace the technological evolution in order to meet the new challenge brought by cyber crime also in the context of undercover policing. Some of the issues identified by the authors of the selected documents reflected the problems highlighted by media articles on the subject. Therefore, the findings suggested that, while improvements in the area have been made throughout the years, concerns regarding the ethicality and accountability of undercover policing tactics in England and Wales are justifiable.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2017 14:56
    Last Modified: 21 Mar 2017 14:56
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/24455

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