The way undercover police operations are conducted is to be reviewed, after the body in control of covert investigations was stripped of the responsibility.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary will investigate duties carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers, a private company which currently takes charge of police spies but is set to lose its powers to Scotland Yard.
The move comes amidst the fall-out from the unmasking of Mark Kennedy, the officer who worked undercover for seven years within a group of environmental activists. The Serious and Organised Crime Agency has been asked to carry out an independent review of Mr Kennedy's deployment.
The policing minister Nick Herbert told the House of Commons home affairs select committee: "It's clear to us all that something operationally has gone very wrong and that is now the subject of an IPCC investigation."