London – The Home Office and security services are exploiting children as young as 16 to be used as spies – known as ‘Covert Human Intelligence Sources’ (CHIS) – within violent gangs, and to gather intelligence on terrorism suspects, endangering their welfare in the process.

In addition to the flagrant disregard for the rights of children, it is possible that youths caught for crimes are ‘re-deployed’ into spying operations, and then undergo surveillance themselves while spying, for vetting purposes.

Serious questions then arise as to whether these ‘juveniles’ are being coerced into spying to avoid prosecution; this would amount to ‘state sanctioned child abuse’.

Moreover, it is ironic that the Security Minister Ben Wallace, who has publicly defended this exploitative policy, continues to defend the intrusion of PREVENT surveillance into families on the pretence of ‘safeguarding’.

It appears that the concept of ‘safeguarding’, in the hands of the state, can be invoked and discarded at will – without any regard for the genuine welfare of children.

This pattern of entrapment, harassment and recruitment of the vulnerable by intelligence services has been documented previously by CAGE.

Asim Qureshi, research director for CAGE, said:

“This is nothing more than the recruitment of child soldiers in a more sugar-coated guise. It is now simply naive to believe that government is concerned with “safeguarding” the vulnerable. Such a claim would entail putting the well-being of children at the core of all of its decisions, but this latest revelation amounts to evidence of state-sanctioned child abuse.”

“It is now plain to see that the British government has lost all touch with what is just, good and practical in terms of bringing communities together. We thought it was bad when Mi5 was shown (link to report) to be taking advantage of the vulnerable including the mentally challenged, but this approach is even more cynical and abusive. We call for the immediate cessation of such abuse.”


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Image courtesy of Flickr/George Olcott

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)