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Committee calls for evidence on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill

30 September 2020

Today the Joint Committee on Human Rights have launched a call for evidence into the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill that was introduced into the House of Commons on 24 September 2020.

The Bill introduces “a statutory power for the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and a limited number of other public authorities to authorise Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) to participate in criminal conduct where it is necessary and proportionate to do so for a limited set of specified purposes.”

The Committee are concerned about the human rights implications of the Bill, particularly as it has no express limit on what criminal conduct can be authorised. Not only this, but the Bill covers the authorisation of criminal conduct by a wide range of public authorities, from the intelligence services and the police to the Gambling Commission and the Food Standards Agency.

Call for evidence

As such, the Committee have released a call for evidence on this issue and are interested in submissions from the public that address the following:

  • Is a statutory power to authorise criminal conduct by CHIS justified?

  • Is the Bill sufficiently clear as to who can be authorised to carry out criminal conduct and in what circumstances? Has the Bill struck the right balance in this regard?

  • Is the threshold test for making criminal conduct authorisations adequate to prevent human rights violations?

  • Does the Bill contain sufficient protections for human rights?

  • Are there types of offences that should never be authorised? Should there be a statutory limit on the types of offences that can be authorised under a criminal conduct authorisation?

  • Is the range of public authorities who will be able to make criminal conduct authorisations appropriate?

  • Particularly in light of the secret nature of criminal conduct authorisations, is oversight by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner an adequate safeguard against abuse? What other safeguards might be appropriate?

  • Should the Bill also provide for compensation for the victims of authorised criminal conduct and cover how they will be treated by the state?

Further information

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