UK: Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill: report from Joint Committee on Human Rights

The UK parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a scrutiny report of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill. The Committee recommends a number of changes, including clear limits on the crimes that may be committed during undercover/covert activity and specification of who may commit criminal acts, amongst other things.


Legislative Scrutiny: Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill report published (parliament.uk, link, emphasis added):

"The Committee have identified a number of places where the Bill needs amendment, including:

    1. There is no express limit within the Bill on the type of criminal conduct that can be authorised. This raises the abhorrent possibility of serious crimes such as rape, murder or torture being carried out under an authorisation.
    2. The Bill is also unclear in respect of who can be authorised to engage in criminal conduct. There is no exclusion for children. If they must be involved in criminal conduct at all it must only be in the most exceptional circumstances.
    3. The Bill extends power to make authorisations to a range of public authorities, including the Food Standards Agency, the Gambling Commission and the Environment Agency. Together with allowing authorisations to be made "to prevent disorder" and to protect "economic well-being", this takes the authorisation of criminal conduct well beyond the fight against serious crime and the protection of national security.
    4. A power as exceptional as the authorisation of criminal conduct, granting criminal and civil immunity, requires rigorous and effective oversight. While the Bill does bring the use of criminal conduct authorisations within the oversight functions of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, it should go further. As is required for other investigatory powers, authorising a person to engage in criminal conduct should require prior judicial approval.
    5. By granting criminal and civil immunity to persons committing authorised criminal offences, the use of criminal conduct authorisations under the Bill would risk violating the rights of victims."

See the report: Tenth Report: Legislative Scrutiny: Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill (pdf)

Further reading

 

Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error