High Court rules against Just for Kids Law in challenge to use of children as spies

Today the High Court handed down its judgment on a case against the Home Office concerning the use of children as spies by the police and other investigative agencies. The case was brought by the children's charity Just for Kids Law, who argued that the government's guidance on the use of children as spies ("Covert Human Intelligence Sources"/"CHIS") lacks appropriate safeguards to protect children from physical and emotional harm. The presiding judge, Hon. Mr Justice Supperstone, ruled that despite the "self-evident" dangers to children arising from their use of covert informants, the current guidance is not unlawful.

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive Officer at Just for Kids Law, said:

"We are disappointed that the Court has ruled against us. We are considering our options for how to proceed with the case, and in the meantime are continuing with our crowdfunding campaign. The judgment acknowledges the "very significant risk of physical and psychological harm to children" and a variety of dangers that arise from their use as covert informants in the context of serious crime. We remain convinced that new protections are needed to keep these children safe. The reaction we have had shows that despite the ruling, there is widespread concern among the public about the government's policy. The Home Secretary should act urgently to ensure that when the police find a child being exploited, their primary concern is to protect the child rather than allow that exploitation to continue."

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Sam Jacobs were instructed by Jennifer Twite of Just for Kids Law.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Just for Kids Law previously took the case of R(HC) v SSHD [2013] EWHC 982 (Admin), which confirmed that 17 year olds are entitled to appropriate adults in the police station when they are arrested for any offence. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the UK has ratified confirms that all those under 18 are children and entitled to special protection under the law.