Sussex Chief Constable Giles York has hit out at cosmetics company Lush’s controversial campaign about undercover policing.
Lush hit the headlines after it put posters up about what it called an ‘ongoing undercover policing scandal’.
CC York said: “Modern covert policing is regulated and inspected giving effective, efficient options for tackling changing face of today’s most serious criminality.
“Transparency is key to public legitimacy and #Lush clumsily bring focus to awful mistakes in our past that still affect victims today.”
Lush announced it was joining forces with the Police Spies Out of Lives campaign to push for progress in the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing.
A spokesman for Lush said: “Hosted in Lush UK shops, social channels and on uk.lush.com, the campaign will support the already active #SpyCops conversation and aims to highlight the current lack of progress of the Undercover Policing Inquiry and the granting of anonymity to key police witnesses.
“For the duration of campaign, Lush staff will be asking customers to add their support by signing a postcard to the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.
“This is not an anti-state/anti-police campaign. We are aware that the police forces of the UK are doing an increasingly difficult and dangerous job whilst having their funding slashed.
“We fully support them in having proper police numbers, correctly funded to fight crime, violence and to be there to serve the public at our times of need.
“This campaign is not about the real police work done by those front line officers who support the public every day – it is about a controversial branch of political undercover policing that ran for many years before being exposed.”
Some Lush stores have now taken the campaign down from their displays.
The Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing is investigating undercover police operations conducted in England and Wales since 1968.
It will examine the contribution undercover policing has made to tackling crime, how it was and is supervised and regulated, and its effect on individuals involved – both police officers and others who came into contact with them.
It follows a number of high-profile cases of undercover police work that have been criticised.
Sussex Police said it supports the statements by the Chief Constable, and by the President of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, (NPCC) Sara Thornton.
Mrs Thornton said: “ Undercover policing plays a critical role in gathering evidence and intelligence to protect people from harm and the work of undercover officers can, and has, saved lives.
“We fully accept that some undercover policing operations, ethics and behaviour in the past were a violation of the victims’ human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma, and we are grateful to those women who told their stories because it brought shameful practices into the light.
“Alongside the College of Policing we have already acted to prevent it happening to others, with new training, guidance and processes in place to ensure undercover operations are lawful, ethical, and proportionate.
“While it may have been well-intended, this campaign from Lush UK is both insulting and damaging to the tens of thousands of officers who place themselves in harm’s way to protect the public on a daily basis, and who have nothing at all to do with the undercover inquiry.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Never thought I would see a mainstream British retailer running a public advertising campaign against our hardworking police.
“This is not a responsible way to make a point.”