David Davis, a former Tory cabinet minister, condemned the police and intelligence agencies’ recruitment of child informants as “morally repugnant” after the House of Lords warned against attempts to facilitate the use of minors as “covert human intelligence sources” (CHIS), the Guardian reported.
The use of children to infiltrate gangs has been criticized by a House of Lords’ legislative committee.
Wallace said that “CHIS have a vital role to play in investigations by public authorities and can provide crucial evidence that cannot be obtained by any other means.”
The proposed measure is facing strong criticism, with David Davis warning that “morally repugnant tactics are a fast route to failure,” and that “winning the moral high ground” must hold the key to the success of such operations.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has urged the government to end the practice immediately.
Unfazed by the public uproar, the government has defended the use of children in spying operations, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman saying that “juvenile covert human intelligence sources are used very rarely and they’re only used when it is very necessary and proportionate, for example helping to prevent gang violence, drug dealing and the ‘county lines’ phenomenon.”
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“The use is governed by a very strict legal framework,” she added.
Human rights groups have condemned the practice, however, with Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, Allan Hogarth, saying that putting minors’ lives at risk during undercover operations is “shocking and unacceptable.”