‘Neither confirm nor deny, neither truth nor justice’ read a banner hung outside Cardiff Central Police Station last Tuesday. Part of a protest organised by local political groups such as the South Wales Anarchists, its aim was to highlight the severe malpractice of undercover policing in the UK.The demonstration was centred on the case of Marc Jacobs, an undercover police officer who forged sexual relationships with two women in order to infiltrate political organisations.

It came a day before a court hearing on Wednesday, the 25th of March at the Royal Courts of Justice in London over allegations against Jacobs related to immoral behaviour and sexual abuse.Tom Fowler, one of the claimants of the case, said on the matter, ‘I think that the use of women in such a way is tantamount to rape by the state and if anybody doesn’t have a problem with that, they have a problem with sexual politics’.

The women targeted are said to have been from vulnerable backgrounds, stemming from family bereavement and personal issues, with Mr Fowler having said in an earlier statement that his friendship with Jacobs had ‘affected the way (he) interacts with people, not just in terms of activism or politics but in (his) personal life’.

Appallingly, this is only one case of many. Peter Francis, for example, recently revealed that the undercover police unit he worked for gathered intelligence on members of at least five trade unions.

Additionally, it has been confirmed that the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), responsible for undercover policing between 1968 and 2008, has engaged in activities such as taking on dead children’s identities, unlawfully targeting women activists, fathering children and colluding and participating in criminal activities.

To this, Mr Fowler said, ‘This way of infiltrating people’s lives, not just infiltrating groups, should be chilling to any citizen of the UK. Many of the women who were targeted by the undercover officers weren’t actually in protest groups, they were just around socially on the activist scene which means no one is safe’.

Such comments are important, particularly when considering current legislation essentially guarding these activities. The Official Secrets Act for example, prosecutes any defected officers from speaking out about their duties within the police which, alongside the police’s defence concerning such matters involving neither confirming nor denying allegations, makes the filing of any allegations against these operations even more tentative.

The situation is only made worse by the recent Counter-Terrorism and Security Act.Passed in February this year, it demands those working in the public domain including hospitals and even nurseries to report anyone they believe to be ‘at risk’ of being involved in terrorism to the authorities.

Concerns have been raised as to how far it can be used, especially given the vague definition of ‘terrorism‘, which could work to further quash would-be whistleblowers in cases including undercover policing.

Perhaps there is a little light at the end of the tunnel however, on the 12th of March this year, it was announced that there will be a full public inquiry into undercover policing in political organisations led by Lord Justice Pitchford, a senior judge in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

The inquiry was welcomed by many, including the Monitoring Group (a civil liberties charity working with people previously targeted by undercover police operations) as an important step in the right direction.

However, this inquiry may be insufficient. The South Wales Anarchists for example, have expressed concerns on their website over whether it will be ‘transparent, robust and independent’. With this in mind, unless such conditions are met, any possibility of justice will remain unlikely.