‘Undercover Cop’

by Patrick O'Brien


Image: mind gears.

A Psychiatrist’s Perspective . . .

Undercover cops, though loathed and feared, hold a place of fascination in the minds of many people and they’ve made for the subject of countless stories, books and films. Few among us have not fantasized at some time about living that life with its excitement and daring do.

Reality check:

There is nothing that can prepare one for the realities of life as an undercover agent. It’s a dangerous world of lies, deceit and double-cross … adrenalin, drugs and fear. I know this because I’ve been there — and then spent the next 30 years struggling to pick up the broken pieces of my former life (but that’s another story).

Latest figures I have from the New Zealand Police Union put the rate of undercover officers who lose their careers after working the “criminal” scene as being around 80% and for their agents in the “political” scene it’s closer to 100%.

In a small sample of undercover agents known as The USED Group which was studied by Dr A.D. Macleod for his clinical paper, “Undercover Policing — A Psychiatrist’s Perspective”, the psychiatric/psychological casualty rate was 16% which he considered high.

Doctor Macleod is New Zealand’s pre-eminent clinical expert on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and a copy of his paper, along with my foreword, is now available for download in PDF format from my Blog, here:

Undercover Policing – A Psychiatrist’s Perspective



Peter Williamson’s story . . .

Stoned on Duty