In response to a sudden interest in camping amongst radical political activists, the Metropolitan police today admitted that they have used a number of undercover officers to infiltrate the Caravan Club.
"This is a fairly radical group", explained Inspector David Howe. "We've noticed that some caravan sites seem to attract trustafarians wearing dust masks and paper suits, so we thought we'd better keep an eye on them."
The club is renowned for its 'anti-car, anti-progress' policies, particularly in Dorset in Summer months. "They have a history of causing disruption and some of their ideals are pretty extreme. They don't spend Saturday evening watching popular reality TV shows like you or I: they prefer to sit in the dark and ponder kerb weights."
The policy of using plain-clothed officers has had its share of controversy. Aside from the cost of authentic, breathable outdoor clothing, at least one officer has been accused of ignoring the warning signs and veering down a dangerous road.
An unnamed officer is accused of queering the pitch at a campsite in the New Forest. "He was in the little wooden shop looking at biscuits, when he overheard an elderly couple discussing their stay", explained Howe. "The woman mentioned that she really liked the site and didn't want to leave, but my officer's response was totally over the top.”
“It was not acceptable for a member of the force to break into their caravan in the dead of night and concrete his leg inside their portaloo. It took us all day to cut his foot out of the u-bend. The woman was very upset, she had nowhere to go."
It’s not just the Caravan Club that’s been affected, officers have gone ‘under canvas’ at a number of other sites. "Constable Jones was doing some sterling work at Skegness Butlins", sighed Howe. "Within a week, he'd wormed his way into the trust of the Ents Committee, and was giving us the 'inside track' on their activities, and some pretty cool tips on ‘table magic’. But then...he went rogue. It’s always a risk that an agent can get caught up in the moment, but I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I heard he'd attended a late-night disco and willingly led the conga."
Howe has apologised for the actions of his men. "They're very sorry. When they looked back on the A34 and counted 46 cars queued behind them, they realised they'd gone too far. They should never have volunteered for a hold-up. "