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Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Sajid Javid, Home Secretary. Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Sajid Javid, Home Secretary. Photos: Wikimedia Commons

New revelations of police and intelligence agencies using children as spies is a chilling practice of child exploitation argues Jamie Wright

We’ve now learned that the British state is engaged in transforming children into their own army of domestic spies. The Guardian reports that police and intelligence agencies are “using children as spies in covert operations against terrorists, gangs and drug dealers”.

Resisting for a moment to go off on a rant about how chillingly Orwellian it is employing children as spies, let us focus on the more immediate concern at hand. Chiefly, that the most vulnerable members in our society - children - are being tasked by the state, to infiltrate and associate with the most dangerous.

The very same people who have a duty of care to protect children from such people as drug dealers and terrorists, are sending them directly to them.

If it is recognised that children do not yet possess the cognitive capabilities to make informed decisions for themselves - how can this practice be legal?

How can it be that on the one hand, a child cannot work a couple of hours after school in for example a carwash - because child protection laws forbid such exploitation - yet, the very same child can be recruited and tasked with exposing themselves to the most dangerous of criminals and their illicit activity?

This question also raises another important question. By which means is it, that police and intelligence agencies are recruiting these children?

Of course, no stall is set up alongside the college and apprenticeship stalls at their schools offering unpaid ‘experience’ work- so what is the method?

Ex-undercover officer Neil Woods - quoted in the Guardian - sheds light on this practice, “it’s basically a kid that has been caught first time, and instead of rescuing them they’re sending them back in”.

Ahh, so it is through means of intimidation and coercion in which vulnerable children are recruited to these uniquely dangerous roles they are wholly unprepared for!

Likely, the children in question have been arrested for minor offences - possession of drugs let’s say - and are coerced into this dangerous role of informant.

Not only does this shine a light on the barbarity of a system which treats the drug problem in society as a criminal rather than the social, medical and human issue that it is - it underlines the exploitation such vulnerable children face as a result.

How much better it would be to begin to deal with the proliferation of drugs in society through compassionate rehabilitative means rather than through criminalisation.

It’s notable also that the practice of turning children into spies has only come to light as a result of a government attempt to gain further powers over their child spies. As reported in the Guardian “a committee of the House of Lords revealed the practice while raising the alarm over government plans to give law enforcement bodies more freedom over their use of children”.

Unless you think it acceptable to turn British children into spies for the State - or as they’re referred to in intelligence circles, “juvenile CHIS” [covert human intelligence sources] - write to your MP and demand they put pressure on the government to stop this truly chilling practice of child exploitation.

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