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Last Update: 22 Hour and 41 Minute ago
News code: 27841
Published Date: Tuesday 9 July 2019 - 12:21:19
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UK police use of child spies in criminal gangs is lawful, high court rules

UK police use of child spies in criminal gangs is lawful, high court rules
World  - Police recruitment and use of child spies to penetrate “county lines” drug gangs and other criminal or terrorist organisations is lawful, the high court has ruled.

Rejecting calls for extra safeguards when handling underage informants, Mr Justice Supperstone acknowledged they were more vulnerable than adults but dismissed claims that their human rights were being breached.

The case was brought by the charity Just For Kids Law which argued that regulations governing recruiting and deploying children as covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) do not contain "adequate safeguards".

During the hearing last month, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, for the charity, said the government believed there was "increasing scope" for using children as informants because they were increasingly involved in serious crimes, both as perpetrators and victims.

Gallagher said the use of children in investigations and prosecutions of serious offences such as terrorism, county lines drug offences and child sexual exploitation, raised "serious concerns" about their safety and wellbeing.

But, delivering judgment on Monday, Supperstone concluded that the scheme was lawful. He said: "In my judgment, there is no unacceptable risk of breach of the ... rights of a juvenile CHIS inherent in the scheme.

"I reject the claimant's contention that the scheme is inadequate in its safeguarding of the interests and welfare of juvenile CHIS."

The judge also found that it was "not irrational" for the scheme to ensure that an appropriate adult was provided for those aged 15 and under but not for those aged 16 and 17. Supperstone said his conclusions had been "reinforced" by confidential material he had seen.

Responding to the ruling, Just For Kids Law's chief executive, Enver Solomon, said the decision was disappointing and the charity was considering its options and continuing to crowdfund the legal challenge.

Solomon added: "The judgment acknowledges the ‘very significant risk of physical and psychological harm to children' and a variety of dangers that arise from their use as covert informants in the context of serious crime.

"We remain convinced that new protections are needed to keep these children safe. The reaction we have had shows that despite the ruling, there is widespread concern among the public about the government's policy."

The security and economic crime minister, Ben Wallace, said: "The court recognised that the protections we have written into law ensure the best interests, safety and welfare of the child will always be paramount.

"Juvenile CHIS have been used fewer than 20 times since January 2015 but they remain an important tool to investigate the most serious of crimes. They will only be used where necessary and proportionate in extreme cases where all other ways to gain information have been exhausted."

Source: The Guardian

News Code: 27841
Published Date: Tuesday 9 July 2019 - 12:21:19
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