February 29, 2016, by Words on Words
Any Means Necessary – New Drama Exposes Intimate Betrayal of Women by Undercover Police
This blog post was written by second year English student, Victoria Lorriman from the School of English.
On for a limited time only at the Nottingham Playhouse, Any Means Necessary is a new commission written by Kefi Chadwick that examines the true stories of women deceived into relationships with undercover police officers. Having interviewed the real women who disclosed the events that caused them to put their hearts into the hands of these men and their false personas, Kefi ensures her drama presents a powerful case that is both horrifying and unsettlingly close to home. I was lucky enough to watch the play last week and it has inspired me to explore its riveting back story in a little more detail…
January 2011 saw the exposure of undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, deployed to infiltrate a group of environmental activists who had planned to reside in, and temporarily shut down, a coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire in April 2009. An unmasking of similar underground operations, set up to infiltrate protest groups from as far back as 1968, followed. Recent investigations in January 2016 have unearthed another undercover officer using the name Carlo Neri, who proposed to a woman whilst under the guise of this fake persona. The woman in question started legal proceedings against the Metropolitan Police for ‘psychological torture’ .
Through a framing device of a Parliamentary hearing, Kefi explores the stories of women affected by such a misogynistic abuse of power. By centring her production on the story of a character named Mel, Kefi demonstrates the length of time over which such abuses were carried out, and the overwhelming suffering caused by betrayal and broken trust. When Mel meets Dave, a supposed carpenter who wants to get involved in the protest movement, she is convinced she has found her soul mate. Dave soon becomes a key figure in both Mel’s life and that of her activist friends, but ‘decent Dave’ is not who Mel believes him to be. Kefi’s intimate production gives audiences a sense of the methods used by police officers who will use any means necessary to dig up information to relay to their seniors involving radical political, social, or environmental movements, and hints at the institutional sexism within the Metropolitan Police.
Founded upon the arrests that charged the environmental activists inhabiting Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station with trespass, Any Means Necessary profoundly demonstrates the exploitation of human rights that exposed one of the largest national police scandals of all time. The unveiling of strategies used by police officers to target women and extract information from them within the context of a long-term, sometimes sexual, relationship resulted in a public apology from the Metropolitan Police alongside a confession that the behaviour of their officers was ‘abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong’ .
Summer 2016 sees the beginnings of a major public inquiry into undercover policing, with almost 150 participants called to give evidence. The inquiry is not only an investigation into the ‘gross violation of personal dignity and integrity’ of the affected women, but a provocateur of questions about the composition of undercover policing itself . The police admitted that the deployments had not been properly managed, even though seemingly rigorous legal controls had been introduced years ago. With such lax legal regulation, it is unsurprising that activists are monitored too closely, and that police officers could, potentially, prompt a protest themselves.
Kefi feels privileged to bring these matters and ‘events to life on the stage at Nottingham, where one of the worst offenders lived and spied’ . Any Means Necessary is a telling of the stories of women whose lives undercover police officers have torn apart and presents the struggle towards justice for these women that the Metropolitan Police treated as expendable.
The production ran from Friday 5th February – Saturday 20th February 2016 at Nottingham Playhouse. More information and photos from the production are available here.
 Richard Watson & Maria Polachowska, ‘Undercover policeman proposed to activist’, BBC News, 18 January 2016 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35345802> [accessed 22 February 2016].
 Tom Morgan, ‘Scotland Yard’s multi-million pound apology to seven women deceived into relationships with officers’, Telegraph, 20 November 2015 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12007287/Scotland-Yard-apologises-to-seven-women-deceived-into-relationships-with-undercover-officers.html> [accessed 22 February 2016].
 Dominic Casciani, ‘Met Police apology for women tricked into relationships’, BBC News, 20 November 2015 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34875197> [accessed 22 February 2016].
 ‘Pre-Show talk with Kefi Chadwick and Merrick Badger’, Nottingham Playhouse, 2016 <http://nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/spoken-word/pre-show-talk-with-kefi-chadwick/> [accessed 22 February 2016].
[Featured images from: http://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/drama/any-means-necessary/]
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