5: Dirty data and devices of dis/closure

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This chapter draws on the work of Gary Marx (1984) and William Walters (2021) to analyse the Undercover Policing Inquiry as a holder of ‘dirty data’ and its processes as maintaining secrecy through ‘devices of dis/closure’. It seeks to go beyond a reading of the Inquiry as simply maintaining the police’s secrets. Disclosure and secrecy are here seen as being in a more complex relationship with each other. Public inquiries employ various tools, or ‘devices of dis/closure’ in Walters’s terms, to mediate competing political, moral and technical demands for data management. Reflecting on each of these, the chapter examines how the Inquiry responded to the conflict between the state and non-state participants and how victims of undercover police abuse pressured both the police and the Inquiry to allow them to access their intelligence files.

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Secrets and Disclosure in the Undercover Policing Inquiry