I have asked the government to investigate a claim by a whistle-blower that the police are setting targets for regional police services to increase the use of juveniles as Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) as part of their efforts to combat county lines drug gangs. The whistle-blower approached my office with the information, but I can not verify the claim and have asked the Minister in the Lords to find out if this is happening.
The exchange with the Minister is on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1eOYzrVFEQ&feature=youtu.be
I asked the Minister:
“Would she agree that the police setting targets for regions to increase the use of juvenile CHIS to combat drug gangs would be incompatible with her previous statement about the rarity of using child spies? The reason I ask is because I was approached by a whistle-blower who said this was going on. I can’t verify this but I’m sure you could. Will you look into this for me?”
The Minister responded by saying she “Most certainly would.”
I’m concerned that the government changed the rules on the use of child spies a few months ago by extending from one to four months, the amount of time the police can use a child spy before the decision is reviewed. The police may claim it is an operational decision, but it was the Minister’s use of secondary legislation that gave the green light to the systematic use of child spies. The use of children as informers within county lines drug gangs would put them in the front line of the war on drug. It’s a war the police can’t win, even with such a morally dubious tactic. The use of children by the drug gangs is itself a response to the success of undercover police and the use of adult informants. That success changed the shape of the UK drugs gangs, but didn’t impact on the scale of the problem. Each step in the war on drugs sees a change of tactics and an escalation of violence, which creates even worse problems.
We need to end the era of drugs prohibition which has fuelled crime in the UK. We need to focus on the medical treatment of hard drug users and change the way we allocate resources to combat the problems associated with drugs.