The Undercover Policing Inquiry is continuing to issue cover names of police spies who were engaged in surveillance and infiltration of protest groups.
A further five names were released this week, including HN 88 “Tim Spence”:
Cover name released: “Timothy Spence”. Groups: Stoke Newington and Hackney Defence Campaign, Hackney Campaign Against the Police Bill; 1983 – 1987.
There are several courses of action that will hopefully arise from this, which readers of this blog may be able to help with.
Firstly, if you knew “Tim Spence” or were active in either of the groups mentioned above, please get in touch with the Undercover Research Group. The UCG is run by activists and is completely independent of the Inquiry. Their aim is to create profiles of spycops to enhance activist investigations into this area. They are good people.
Secondly if you have memories, publications or insights into the groups named and the campaigning they did, please get in touch with me and I will add them to this site.
Here’s what we know so far:
Hackney Campaign Against the Police Bill
The Police Bill was a typically draconian bit of Tory legislation giving the cops more powers so they could better attack people who were the victims of the government’s own policies. Its proposals included:
- hold people for 96 hours without charge
- set up random road blocks around an area
- conduct forcible intimate body searches of detainees
- use force in taking fingerprints (even of minors)
- seize confidential information held by doctors, lawyers, journalists
It became the Police Act in 1985, but there was a great deal of resistance to it from 1983 onwards.
The national campaign against the Police Bill was based at 50 Rectory Road, Stoke Newington N16.
Interestingly, the campaign seems to have received funding from Ken Livingstone’s GLC to the tune of £38,000 which lead to questions being asked in parliament.
Some of this money presumably was spent on admin and printing leaflets (some of which can be downloaded as pdfs here).
There was also a conference at Hackney Town Hall in May 1983:
Much of the above is based on this blog post by Hackney comrade John Eden, who also mentions the campaign’s own reggae single by Ranking Ann:
Stoke Newington and Hackney Defence Campaign
Some of the comments of the release of the cover name have confused this campaign group with the Hackney Community Defence Association, which was not formed until July 1988, one year after “Tim Spence” stopped being deployed.
However this leaflet and the commentary makes it clear that the Stoke Newington and Hackney Defence Campaign was involved with defending people who had been arrested during protests about the death of Colin Roach by a gunshot in Stoke Newington Police Station in 1983.
Why this is important
These were legitimate protest groups that campaigned to assist victims of police brutality and also against the potential for police powers to be extended via a change in the law.
That the police would insert a spy into these groups is perhaps not surprising given what we now know. But it is (to put it politely) not a great sign for a supposedly healthy democracy.