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Kids charity accuses UK govt of endangering lives of child spies – High Court to hear

Kids charity accuses UK govt of endangering lives of child spies – High Court to hear
Child spies as young as 15 are being put at risk of “extreme brutality” by terrorists and drug gangs, according to a kids charity that has forced a judicial review. They accuse the UK government of neglecting children’s safety.

Just for Kids Law brought the case against the UK Home Office to the High Court for hearing on Tuesday. It comes after a House of Lords debate in October revealed how a 17-year-old girl had been recruited by police to spy on a man who was sexually exploiting her.

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While being used as a covert informant the teenager continued to be exploited by the perpetrator and was even coerced into being an accessory to murder.

Neil Woods, a former police officer who has experience of handling covert human intelligence sources in drug law enforcement has warned that child spies are often at risk of both physical and mental abuse.

In my experience, it is common for criminals to resort to extreme levels of brutality to deter informants, contributing to a cycle of ever-increasing violence among drug gangs.

Government figures reveal that at least 17 children have been recruited as spies since January 2015 – with one aged just 15.

Under current legislation provided by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, children are allowed to be used as “covert human intelligence sources,” by police and other investigative agencies.

Just for Law Kids claim that the children being used in undercover operations are not receiving the basic safeguarding protections required, such as access to appropriate adults and may be being used without their parents’ knowledge.

Enver Solomon, the charity’s chief executive, says that the first response of the police should be to safeguard and help the child out of a dangerous situation “rather than put them at great risk of further exploitation and abuse.”

Ben Wallace, the UK security minister, insists that child informants are used “very rarely,” in line with a “strict legal framework” where the well-being of the young person is “the paramount consideration.”

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