07 February 2013


One of the more repellent forms of identity crime is rebirthing, ie appropriating the identity of a dead baby or older child. It is a practice that occasionally appears in law reports concerning offences such as production and use by criminals of illicit passports, driver registration documents and other signifiers of identity. A criminal for example assumes the identity of the dead minor and builds on the genuine birth certificate through fraudulent acquisition from a passport office of a genuine passport.

In the UK there is an emerging furore over acknowledgment that police executives had authorised undercover officers to "steal the identities of around 80 dead children".

The Guardian has revealed that
police infiltrating protest groups have for three decades adopted the identities of dead children, without informing or consulting their parents. 
Two undercover officers have provided a detailed account of how they and others used the identities of dead children. 
Keith Vaz, chair of the home affairs select committee has said he is "shocked" at the "gruesome" practice. 
"The committee will hear from those who have been involved in undercover operations as well as their victims," he said. "I have asked the deputy assistant commissioner Pat Gallan to deal with the issues that have arisen." ...
Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, has called for a public inquiry into undercover policing following the revelations. Macdonald said the police appeared to have "completely lost their moral compass", suggested some units had "gone rogue" and said the "drip, drip, drip" of "seedy and corrosive" stories threatened to undermine public confidence. An inquiry was needed to ensure such tactics were still not being used, he said.
The Guardian has
established how police officers were equipped with fabricated identity records, such as driving licences and national insurance numbers, in the name of their chosen dead child. They also visited the family home of the dead child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings and conducted research into other family members. ... The force said that the practice of using the identities of dead children is not currently authorised. 
The operation is known to have been orchestrated by the Special Demonstration Squad, a secretive Met unit disbanded in 2008. Dozens of SDS officers are believed to have searched through birth and death certificates to find a child who had died young and would be a suitable match for their alias. 
The officers then adopted the entire identity of the child as if the child had never died. One police officer has said the process was like "resurrecting" a dead person's identity. 
The disclosure comes after two years of revelations concerning undercover police officers having sexual relationships with women they are spying on. Eleven women are currently bringing legal action against the Met for damages.