all credits: UNITE, The Union
published: September 2020
The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill (CHIS), otherwise known as the SpyCops Bill, is currently being rushed through parliament. Its purpose is to provide the legal basis for the conduct of undercover agents such as police officers, but in reality, it will go much further.
There has been a well-documented history of state surveillance of lawful trade union activity and justice campaigns in recent years, including links with the criminal blacklisting of trade union members.
These revelations have been admitted by the police, as has the appalling conduct of undercover police in pursuing surveillance of legitimate civil society organisations, including anti-racist, family justice and environmental groups. These are still subject to a public inquiry.
The concerns of UNITE about CHIS include:
- It allows state agents to commit crimes to stay undercover
- There’s no limit to what crimes they can commit, including murder, torture or sexual violence
- They can commit crimes to ‘prevent disorder’ or maintain ‘economic well-being’
- It threatens trade union activity and justice campaigns
- There is no provision for innocent victims to get compensation
- It allows a wide range of agencies like the Food Standards Agency to spy on people and commit crimes
- It does not protect human rights.
- It lacks prior judicial authorisation to commit a crime