Sex while undercover

Posted: January 29, 2013 by gambini7 in Uncategorized

In August 2006, a group of UK police officers were conducting some undercover work. There was a protest going on in North Yorkshire and some under cover police officers were assigned to infiltrate the group. After a couple years, it was found out that some police officers, while undercover, slept with the protesters. The sexual partners of the under cover police have come together and are seeking damages because of their personal embarrassment. There has been no clear answer of whether this should be allowed within the police force. Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe believes that “It certainly should not be part of the strategy to do that while conducting police work” (The Guardian,2013). If sleeping with an individual while undercover is deemed illegal, its just another way for groups to figure out if someone is a police officer or not.

For typology one from the Knapp commission, I consider these undercover police officers to be grass eaters. Grass eaters are officers that “did not look for graft or kickbacks but passively accepted them as natural perks that were spontaneously on offer” (Punch,2009). I’ m assuming that they did not go out looking to sleep with the protesters but the opportunity arose and they just took what was given to them. Sleeping with the protesters is just a perk of the trade.

There are two police officer profiles that I believe can fit this article. Mr/ms average are people who are willing to bend a couple rules and are pretty laid back. These undercover officers fit this because they are willing to bend a couple rules, even if not criminal rules but internal police force rules. Sleeping with the protesters is not an illegal act but may be frowned upon within the police organization. Dirty Harry’s may fit these officers as well. A dirty harry is someone who is incorruptible but is willing to do whatever it takes to get the bad guy. It may be a stretch, but the police officers may have slept with the protesters just to get more information on what was going on and what the goals of the protest were.

For Typology two, these police officers could be using corruption of authority and kickback. Corruption of authority means that an officer receives gifts or services for free because of his authority. Sleeping with the protesters being spied on may be a form of service that these officers are taking advantage of due to their profession. Kickback means that I do something for you and you do something for me. The police officers may be have been involved with some form of give and take with the protesters. The protestors may be sleeping with the undercover officers and receiving something in return.

Typology three falls within the police domain and police institution failure. The undercover officers are classified as grass eaters who may have seen the sex as a freebie. Receiving freebies is not a criminal offense but is a form of deviance. Police institution failure means that the deviance is largely confined within the police organization. In this case, the acts of the undercover officers solely resides within the police organization and is the origin of the problem. The police organization never had rules about sex while undercover. This situation had never come up before and people within the criminal justice system have mixed opinions on what should be done about it.


Paul Lewis, Rob Evans (2013, January 17). Police spies court case suggest sexual relations with activists were routine. The Guardian.

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

  1. Mike Larsen says:

    You note that ” If sleeping with an individual while undercover is deemed illegal, its just another way for groups to figure out if someone is a police officer or not.” I’m not sure what you are saying here. Could you please clarify?

    In describing this activity as grass-eating, you note that “Sleeping with the protesters is just a perk of the trade”. First, many would argue that it is inappropriate to describe this as a ‘perk’. This involves sexual relations based on deception and false pretenses. Consider this from the perspective of one of the citizens on the other end of this ‘perk’.

    One of the points we can learn from this case is that deviant activities committed during undercover operations – which are characterized by deception – are often difficult to fit within our traditional typologies of police deviance (which tend to focus on interactions where the identity of a given actor as a police officer is evident to all).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s