UK Special Branch

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Group.png UK Special Branch  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
UK Special Branch.jpg
FormationMarch 1883
Parent organizationMetropolitan Police, UK
SubgroupsSpecial Demonstration Squad

The UK Special Branch (a.k.a. Metropolitan Police Special Branch or MPSB) is a unit responsible for matters of "national security" in the UK. The remit of Special Branch is to acquire and develop intelligence, usually of a political nature, and to conduct investigations into perceived threats of subversion against the UK Establishment.


The first Special Branch, or "Special Irish Branch", as it was known, was a unit of London's Metropolitan Police formed in March 1883 to combat the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The Irish soubriquet was subsequently dropped as the unit's remit widened. During the same period it became active in the policing of so-called 'Anarchist' groups, mainly expatriats from Continental Europe, especially the French Communards and Russian Tsarist dissidents. One of its more infamous episodes was facilitating and organising what became known as "The Walsall Bomb Plot" of 1890 in which 3 hot-head dissidents were inveigled into constructing primitive bombs from equipment and know-how provided by Special Branch agents, then caught 'in the nick of time' and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The episode elevated Special Branch Inspector William Melville (ironically an Irishman) to heroic status. He went on to take over from Chief Inspector Littlechild as head of Special Branch and later to oversee the formation of MI5 - a sort of latter day Robert Cecil (of Gunpowder Plot fame) you might say.

Since that time, where matters of Deep State policy are concerned, police/security service methods have clearly changed only in scale, sophistication and ambition, as ever greater resources have been allocated to them.


Special Demonstration Squad

Full article: Special Demonstration Squad

The Special Demonstration Squad was set up in 1968 to "deal with the lack of police knowledge of what was happening on demonstrations", according to a film interview from The Guardian[citation needed]. It covertly infiltrated UK protest groups while working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service. MI5 were well aware of the group and exerted at least some control over it, though it apparently ran for 40 years without the knowledge of the most senior senior officers of Special Branch.[1]

External Links


A Document by UK Special Branch

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
File:GeorgeOrwellSpecialBranchFile.pdfPolice fileJuly 2012George OrwellThe UK Metropolitan Police Special Branch file on Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell)
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