Bernard Hogan-Howe was the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commissioner between 2011 and 2017. Recently it was announced he will advise on security for the June G7 summit in Cornwall. Yet his record on public order policing is controversial, to say the least.
Total policing was seen as a form of zero tolerance, with crackdowns on vandalism, drug taking and fare dodging as well as the monitoring and harassment of known criminals.
This harassment style policing was also regularly used against protesters to deter them from the streets.
Destruction of files
A 2015 “restricted” document, written under Hogan-Howe’s watch, “related to” Neil Hutchison, was published as part of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). It revealed a massive failure by the MPS in basic document storage, with an estimated 54% of 84,000 crates of MPS records “missing” or considered inaccurate.
In 2016, The Canary revealed that then detective superintendent Hutchison was the author of another confidential file submitted to the UCPI on behalf of Hogan-Howe. That file argued that the identity of two SO15 (counter-terrorism) officers who liaised with undercover officers (UCOs) assigned to the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) should be withheld.
Earlier this year, home secretary Priti Patel announced that Hogan-Howe had been appointed to investigate how thousands of files had been wiped from the Police National Computer. Altogether, “209,550 offence records have been wrongly deleted, which are associated to 112,697 persons’ records”.
But there’s a certain irony to Hogan-Howe’s appointment given the files from the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU) that were destroyed during his time as commissioner. The NDEDIU was one of the successors to the SDS. It cannot be ruled out that some of these ‘missing’ or destroyed files implicated UCOs in the way they had spied on and infiltrated protest groups.
my conclusion is that the key file which contains the evidence of Home Office interaction in relation to the SDS from 1968 to 2008 probably no longer exists and there is no record of what happened to it. It is known that this file would have included documents classified as Secret and Top Secret.
In February 2017, The Canary exclusively revealed the cover sheet that listed the file. It showed it not only included SDS activities but also a review of the relationship between Special Branch and MI5 (security service):
Spycops and sexual exploitation
In 2005, UCOs from the SDS and NPOIU were deployed to the G8 summit at Gleneagles. 18 undercover officers were dispatched to infiltrate the protesters.
Kennedy is known to have sexually exploited several activists. This included relationships with Sarah Hampton, ‘Lisa Jones, ‘Naomi’, and Kate Wilson. The latter has just finished submitting evidence to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. She’s also suing the MPS for “egregious and serious violations” of her human rights.
The [UCO] involved lets us know and we deal with it as a problem, but do not condemn.
At least 30 women are believed to have been exploited in this way. However, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that no UCO would be prosecuted for “having non-consensual sexual relations with any member of the public”.
Hogan-Howe is also known for many other controversies.
For example, his testimony to the 1989 inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster was, at best, misleading. Indeed, the former chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, later commented:
It is incredible that the top police officer [Hogan-Howe] in the country has not told the truth about the account he gave when 96 people lost their lives.
Former archdeacon of Sheffield Stephen Lowe said of Hogan-Howe, who was put in charge of the Hillsborough boy’s club where families had gathered, that
The inspector was not working as part of the team. There was no organisation – it was utter chaos, a shambles. The police were defensive; we could not get information; there was no sense of partnership or that they were there to help us do what was needed
More recently, it was revealed that Hogan-Howe was a paid adviser to collapsed bank Greensill, while also acting as a ‘non-executive director” with the Cabinet Office. According to the Guardian, Hogan-Howe:
first became a paid consultant, advising Greensill’s wage advance app, Earnd, in May 2020. That was the same month that he joined the Cabinet Office as a non-executive director.
Hogan-Howe and G7
Protesters are already voicing their concerns about how the G7 will be policed with 5,500 extra officers being drafted in for the summit. And Hogan-Howe’s appointment hasn’t done anything to relieve those concerns.
The Resist G7 Coalition, who are coordinating opposition to the summit, told The Canary:
Indeed, it remains to be seen if Hogan-Howe’s ‘total policing’ approach and his liking for tasers (or even water cannon) will apply to the upcoming summit.
Featured image via Flickr/Policy Exchange
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