Detectives ordered to spy on officers eating lunch

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The Independent Online

Ten officers from a police surveillance team were taken off their usual duties and asked to spy on two female constables as they did routine policing work.

Ten officers from a police surveillance team were taken off their usual duties and asked to spy on two female constables as they did routine policing work.

The surveillance squad from the Greater Manchester force watched the two women officers drive around in their police car and eat their lunch.

The exercise, intended as part of a scheme to improve the efficiency of patrols, has now become the subject of an internal police inquiry.

Superintendent Steve Westcott ordered the unit to spend a day monitoring the activities of the constables from the Bury division, who were chosen at random for the exercise.

The team, which usually watches and photographs major criminals, was asked to switch targets and follow their fellow police officers around Bury town centre in Greater Manchester.

It is believed that Supt Westcott, 48, was concerned about arrest rates and wanted to improve the way the division was policed.

Supt Westcott had written a letter to all Bury officers and civilian staff - 328 in total - explaining that the surveillance was an attempt to "improve deployment of patrols."

He called the exercise an "anatomy of a day", but he admitted it was controversial and conceded that some regarded it as a breach of trust.

The operation is believed to have been revealed accidentally when officers were told how secret surveillance could be a breach of a suspect's rights under the new Human Rights Act.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Green said yesterday: "A disciplinary investigation has been launched into the methods used by management to monitor the service we provide to the people of Bury. It would not be appropriate to comment further until this investigation has been completed."

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