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How to Be a Police Spy

A guide on leaving your old life behind and screwing over some activists.

Some of the UK police officers who have been exposed as undercover spies. (Screengrab via)

Intelligence Mole. It's not the name of CBBC’s new hit show about a highly astute, earth-dwelling rodent who solves woodland crimes. It's a person who hangs around with Greenpeace activists for years, trying to get off with everyone there in order to earn their trust and then dob them all in to the Metropolitan Police Service. This, clearly, is a curious life choice. But recently, a spate of young men (and one woman) seem to be leaping at the chance to spend every day being precisely what they hate: living in the dirty squats of dim protesters, making flyers for causes they are ultimately going to betray, doing pointless yet detailed needlework for ALF banners, eating all of that foul vegan food, thinking all of those foul vegan thoughts.


Still, it evidently holds an appeal to some people. If you’ve always wanted to get into radical anarchy but secretly love the cold, hard steel of authority, then being a deep-cover intelligence mole could be exactly the role for you.

Just don’t think it’s easy; it’s not. You will have to leave behind everything and everyone you’ve ever known. You will be exposed to more DJ Skazi than you ever thought existed. You will hear more people misquote Zizek than you imagined was possible. Here are some pointers on being an intelligence mole from our source hidden deep within a Dunstable-based environmentalist group*.

Stephen Lawrence, whose family were allegedly spied on after his death in order to build evidence for a smear campaign against them.


When I go into deep cover, what should I tell my friends from my previous life?
Mostly, you will be provided with a state-sanctioned cover story that you have died. A government doctor will be found to sign the death certificate – "short illness", "merciful release", "AIDS complications", etc, etc. Feel free to attend the funeral in disguise. It is important that you yourself reach "closure", too, but resist the urge to correct any factual errors in friends’ eulogies about stupid things you did involving BB-guns and stray dogs. Normally you’ll be stationed miles away, but if you somehow bump into anyone from your old life again, the general etiquette is just to tell them you’re definitely dead and they’re definitely having a slightly tragic breakdown, which they'll need to sort out with months of intensive therapy.


Okay, I’m undercover. Now, what’s my motivation?
You’ll have to pull the back-story together yourself, I’m afraid. The Met doles out the names of dead children, the rest of it is up to you. But the moment at which you were "turned on" to your chosen cause is obviously going to be a key signifier within your journey: endlessly relayed and re-hashed as the moment of your re-birth. Thus, it needs to be both original and plausible. See the RADICALISATION STORIES section for further guidance.

What’s the etiquette for being a policeman on deep cover duties, vis-a-vis maintaining a romantic life? What sensitivities should be obeyed and which might be overridden? Basically, what I’m trying to say is: Can I have sex any more?
Well, that's down to your fellow activists. Why not just ask them? I’m sure they’re riding on all kinds of free love freeways. They’re probably kinky as hell, too – subversives always are. They're into the sorts of things you only ever see in those confiscated magazines from Moldova that our sergeant hides behind the fridge – strap-ons, inverted penises, all of that.

What should I call the child I have with an activist?
For Black Panther-types, what about Martin Luther? Or maybe just "X"? It could lead to bullying at school, true, but that needs to be balanced against the pop career potential.

For environmental groups, what about Daisy? Or Holly? Or Ivy? Or, if it’s a boy, Rock.


For CND, how about Bam?

For anti-animal cruelty, what about Maybelline, or Chanel?

Okay, I’ve made it to second base with a group member (seven years co-habiting, three kids). But now it’s time to return to reality as a single copper living in a small terraced house in the arse end of Kettering. What’s the best way to break this news to my common-law spouse?
From as far away as possible, to be blunt.

In terms of what you say, it’s often good to try to create some distance between oneself and the events in question. To, as far as possible, try to remind your newly un-beloved that she has been giving her heart to a non-existent anti-person, thus has no existing claim over you. Try the following:

“Darling, you know you keep saying we should talk more? Well, it depends who to. You see, nominally, you would say you need to talk to James Palmer. But James Palmer is actually the name of a child who died in the early 80s. I’m Phil McFerrin. Constable Phil McFerrin. So why don’t you go and tell all your James Palmer problems to that mirror over there? The net effect, I think you’ll find, is the same. Oh, by the way… just before he evaporated into an existential vacuum for the last time, James Palmer told me to tell you he loves you and that you can keep the saucepans, the iPod dock, the Mr Coffee and the kids. But he’s bequeathing Phil McFerrin the Xbox. And the dog.”

Mark Kennedy, the undercover officer who slept with loads of activists while embedded in their group, explaining his actions to Jon Snow.


How am I supposed to remember who I used to be?
There comes a time in every undercover policeman’s life where he goes so deep into cover that he forgets who he used to be. This is to be expected. After all, there ought to be a level of Stanislavskian immersion at the heart of your craft. Don’t forget: Al Pacino claims he went blind during points of filming Scent of a Woman. That’s the level you should be aiming for. Though, should you plunge off the deep end, the Met will identify the problem and you will be debriefed regularly by a staff liaison officer who will show you pictures of your former self and, if necessary, read lengthy extracts from your teenage diaries to you.

When should I report back?
However airtight it will make your evidence, it’s important to quit the mission and report back to your superiors well before a major incident, not after it. For instance, if you are so brilliantly embedded that your group blows up the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site and you then jump out of the cloisters, proudly shouting: “Hahaha! Caught you red-handed! Saw the whole thing – you’ll swing for this!” it’s probably too late and you should have called it in earlier.


"I became radicalised to the cause of animal rights when I looked down at the pig I was slaughtering and realised that it had the same amount to offer the world as you or I. I’m happy to say I was only halfway through – I hadn’t yet breached the jugular vein. So, after some stitching and an IV line, the pig enjoyed a long and productive life, authoring six books and a couple of novellas."


"So, I became radicalised to global warming when I was trapped in a car by my absent-minded mother as a child. I thought, 'Wow, if a few panes of glass can make my dog so hot that it dies, imagine what the whole bloody world must be able to do.'"

"I became radicalised to Islam after googling the phrase ‘I slam'. I was a slam poet at the time and was just looking for something that rhymed with that, but the space bar was a little sticky. Long story short, I spent the next few months watching Abu Hamza videos, and now I want to strap myself to 50 kilos of gelignite to really hammer the point home."

"I became radicalised to white power when I realised that we always get a bad deal. Like, why don’t whites get good seats at the opera? Why are there no white black men? Take a look at the Fortune 500 and name me a single white CEO. Go on. You can’t, can you? Oh, sure, there are the token whiteys society dotes on: William Hague, Chad Kroeger, Alan Bennett. But really: name me one other white guy. You can’t, can you?"

Undercover police doing a terrible job of being undercover.


Being a copper amongst the natural enemies of coppers is never going to be easy. With that in mind, it will be necessary to avoid various dead giveaways.

Avoid dancing: Policemen have a very unique style of dancing. This will be apparent to any protester from years of watching the TV news the day after the Notting Hill Carnival. Don’t get caught in that trap.


Avoid discussing music: Many people are aware of The Stereophonics’ work, but protesting tends to be more about psytrance, dubstep sound-systems and Toots & The Maytals. They will not have the same ability to laud Kelly Jones’ creative evolution from "The Bartender and the Thief" towards "Mr Writer" as you.

Avoid talking about sport: Again, there is a socio-economic disconnect here. Many of these people don’t even know what Wasps versus Ospreys is. Instead, they will think you’re quoting some dimly remembered passage from a Richard Dawkins book on natural selection.

Avoid discussing bringing back hanging: The phrase "dancing on the end of a rope", in particular, offends the sensitive, politically correct flowers you'll be spending most of your time with. They haven’t seen what you’ve seen. So just let it go.

Avoid wearing too much stuff from Burton: Shabby chic – that’s what you should be aiming for. Just because, to you or I, these people look like the upended contents of a West End rubbish bin outside Viva Forever after a particularly heavy Friday night’s kebab sales doesn’t mean that, to the likes of them, there isn’t some sort of underlying logic to it all.


How Marxism works
Basically, Marxism is kind of like sharing for cunts.

How global warming works
Basically, it’s the reason it always rains on bank holidays and the only way to stop it is to use shit halogen lightbulbs instead of the good ones that used to work.


How radical Islam works
Basically, imagine Islam. Now imagine lots of Muslims really baring their teeth and looking fierce, but you can’t nick ‘em 'cos of diversity training or summink.

How neo-Nazism works
Basically, you know what we all talk about down the station locker rooms? That.


Worst-case scenario: you start talking a bit too graphically about what you’d like to do to "that Trevor Phillips". The suspicions turn into concerns, which turn into insurrection, and there may well come a point when you need to defend yourself against the group until you can get out. Avoid confrontation if possible, but if not, figure out what kind of protester you’re dealing with. Pacifists are generally pretty easy to overpower. Just pistol whip them till they can’t stand up unaided, then bound them up with cable ties and horsewhip them with a length of electrical flex until the threat is "neutralised".

Vegans will also be weak as piss from all that aubergine they eat. Islamic fundamentalists less so. Probably best just to throw in a grenade and slam the door, tbh (but you didn’t hear that from me!). As ever: “He was coming straight for me,” is the watchword.

If you need any further training in any of this, the Met has released a helpful instructional video called The Ian Tomlinson Self-Defence Course: The Art of the Push.

*if you're part of a Dunstable-based environmentalist group and you're reading this, don't worry: as far as VICE knows, one of your activist pals isn't relaying details of everything you do to a smirking, whiskey-breathed Jack Regan type back at Scotland Yard. However, if you yourself are a mole in a Dunstable-based environmentalist group, and you're reading this, I'd probably make like the polar ice caps and leave before both of your personalities wash up on the banks of the Colne.

Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

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