Police cleared over ‘luring people to crime’ claims in Cricklewood undercover sting

Police have been cleared by the Court of Appeal

Police have been cleared by the Court of Appeal - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Police have been cleared over accusations they ‘lured’ people to commit crime, by running a shop in Cricklewood to catch out people trading in stolen goods in an undercover sting.

Officers masqueraded as staff at TJ’s Trading Post in Cricklewood Lane, in 2011, as part of Operation Gemini, with the aim of catching out people selling swag stolen during burglaries in the area.

The shop closed the following year and 80 people admitted offences, including handling stolen goods, burglary and possessing identity documents with intent.

Three men aged between 19 and 22 who were jailed challenged their convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with their lawyers arguing they were ‘unsafe’ because they were obtained using ‘entrapment’.

They said two of the undercover officers ‘impressed’ the young people with the large sums of money to be made by trading in the shop, and the ‘glamorous lifestyle’ associated with crime, and that the surveillance in the shop was ‘intrusive’.

Lawyers said the operation was ‘disproportionate’ as it involved ‘targeting an entire community and putting temptation in their way’.

Their legal teams also asked to put forward evidence from Christian Plowman, a former undercover officer who worked in the shop for three months, before quitting his job and writing a book about his experiences with the force.

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But, dismissing the appeals, Lady Justice Hallett said there was no entrapment and that Mr Plowman’s evidence to the Appeal Court was ‘exaggerated, unreliable and unhelpful’.

Sitting with Mr Justice Andrew Smith and Judge Martyn Zeidman QC, he added: “The way in which Operation Gemini was planned and implemented does not come close to police misconduct.

“These were commercial premises open to the public; no-one was forced or badgered into entering them. There is no affront to justice here.”