Sunderland identity campaigner blasts police for using dead children’s details

Alf Jones and Freda Woods
Alf Jones and Freda Woods
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A WEARSIDER hoping to change the birth and death registration system has hit out at undercover officers accused of using dead children’s identities.

Alf Jones, whose dead baby brother John had his identity stolen by canoe conman John Darwin, has been campaigning for changes to the system which would prevent deceased children having their identities taken.

John Jones, from the East End, died at just 34 days old in 1950, but had his birth certificate bought by Darwin.

The fraudster used it to obtain a passport and flee the country after faking his own death in a life insurance scam.

Afterwards, Alf, from Pallion, started a campaign to see parents given the right to have birth certificates of dead babies marked with “deceased,” to stop identity theft.

Today, he called for more action to be taken to address the problem after two former Scotland Yard detectives claimed they used identity records issued in the children’s names.

The allegations mainly relate to the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) members’ operations in the 1980s.

It was reported the squad stole the identities of about 80 children who had died at an early age.

According to the reports, deceased children’s identities were used by the undercover officers because they would stand up to scrutiny if birth records were checked.

The practice was carried out without consultation with the parents of the children, the report suggested.

It is exactly this type of practice that Alf Jones is now trying to prevent happening again.

I’m annoyed that the police have been able to do this and carry on doing it for so long,” he said.

“I appreciate there are things that have to be done in secret to prevent terrorism, but surely something now needs to be done to stop this.”

The 55-year-old and his family are campaigning vigorously to see parents given the right to have birth certificates of their dead babies marked with “deceased,” to stop identity theft.

“If this is done, if parents registering the death of their children are asked if they want the birth certificate marked as deceased, we would see an end to this,” added Alf.

“David Cameron is always talking about getting more people into work, surely its worth employing people who can do this to prevent these identities being taken.”

Two former officers of the SDS are quoted as saying they were issued with identity records, like driving licences and national insurance documents, in the names of dead children.

Documents suggested such identities had been used by officers between 1968 and 1994.

A Met statement said: “A formal complaint has been received which is being investigated by the DPS (Directorate of Professional Standards) and we appreciate the concerns that have been raised.”

Alf has now contacted Baroness Smith of Basildon in the House of Lords about his campaign.

•To visit Alf’s campaign page go to

Twitter: @craigjourno