The PSNI police in the North of Ireland has confirmed it is using nationalist children to inform, even on their own family.
The PSNI policy document ‘Children as Covert Human Intelligence Sources’ was approved in February 2005.
It stated: “With juveniles the principle issue is the maturity of the individual.
“In general, the more a controller is satisfied that the juvenile understands their position, understands the risks which they run and demonstrates self-reliance and some control over their life, the safer it is to use them as a source.”
The document approves the use of the child-spies to inform on family members, other than their mothers and fathers.
Nationalists have expresed anger that the highly controversial policy remains in place, twelve years after the IRA ceasefire. There have also been demands for details of the children involved.
Sinn Fein representative for West Belfast Fra McCann said that the admission was no surprise and the pracetice was “toally unacceptable”.
He said it also raised questions about whether the youths and children involved may be ‘above the law’ and responsible for anti-social behaviour, particularly in nationalist communities.
“Within many communities, particularly working class communities, there is a deep frustration and at times total disbelief at the criminal and anti-social behaviour that young people engage in with apparent impunity,” he said.
“Incidents where known criminals are repeatedly allowed back into the local community only to cause more harm and more damage are common.
“These are people who are killing people on our roads, bringing drugs into our communities and terrorising people. It is totally unacceptable that such ‘child’ agents are being given a free hand by the PSNI.
“I will be writing to the British Secretary of State and requesting the names of all of these ‘child’ agents under the Freedom of Information Act”
A PSNI spokesman said that child informers were only used in “exceptional circumstances”.