Child Spies Used By UK Intelligence and Police

By July 28, 2018

Child spies, in the UK, are used for covert operations against terrorists, gangs and drug dealers by the British police and intelligence agencies.

A committee of the House of Lord's revealed the practice of using child spies some aged under 16 years old while raising the alarm over government plans to give law enforcement bodies more freedom to use children as spies.

“We are concerned that enabling a young person to participate in covert activity associated with a serious crime for an extended period of time may increase the risks to their mental and physical welfare,” said the committee, chaired by Lord Trefgarne, a former Tory government minister.

In a report, published by the Home Office in correspondence with the committee, it suggests that children are not only used to furnish information to police but also assigned to collect information on behalf of agencies.

Rosalind Comyn, legal and policy officer at Rights Watch (UK), said: “Enlisting children as foot soldiers in the darkest corners of policing, and intentionally exposing them to terrorism, crime or sexual abuse rings – potentially without parental consent – runs directly counter to the government’s human rights obligations, which demand the interests of children be placed at the heart of decisions which affect them.

The Home Office said: “Juvenile covert human intelligence sources are used very rarely and only ever when it is necessary and proportionate and when there is no other less intrusive way to get the information needed to convict criminals or terrorist suspects.”

This included helping to prevent and prosecute gang violence, drug dealing and the running of drugs from cities to small towns – known as county lines – “all of which have a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities”.

It said the use of child spies was overseen by the investigatory powers commissioner, Lord Justice Fulford, adding: “Throughout any deployment and beyond, the welfare of the young person is the paramount consideration.”

Reference:
Gayle, Damien, Cobain, Ian "UK Intelligence And Police Using Child Spies In Covert Operations" The Guardian, 19 July 2018