The public inquiry into undercover policing (“the Pitchford inquiry”) commenced in July 2015 and in its first year has considered a range of preliminary issues, including the awarding of core participant status to interested parties. Although the inquiry is perceived broadly as an inquest into undercover policing, it is highly politically charged due its focus on the infiltration of left-wing protest groups by undercover police units. In this paper I reflect on some of the key issues arising from the preliminary hearings and from the remit set by the Home Secretary. In particular, I query whether the inquiry suffers from a legitimacy deficit, due to a number of shortcomings; for example the restriction of the inquiry’s remit to England and Wales only and the police’s resolve to give some of the evidence in private rather than public. This has implications for how non-police core participants will relate to it and how it will be perceived more widely.
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Published in Papers from the British Criminology Conference ISSN 1759-0043.Vol.16 2016. © 2016 the author and the British Society of Criminology
- public inquiry
- undercover policing