Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS)

An individual who establishes or maintains a personal or other relationship with a person for the covert purpose of facilitating the doing of anything that:

  • covertly uses such a relationship to obtain information or to provide access to information to another person; or
  • covertly discloses information obtained by the use of such a relationship, or as a consequence of the existence of such a relationship.

Unlike directed surveillance, which relates specifically to private information, authorisations for the use or conduct of a CHIS do not relate to the covert management of a relationship to gain any information. Article 8 includes the right to establish and develop relationships and any management of a relationship by a public authority (e.g. one party having a covert purpose on behalf of the public authority) is likely to be an issue, regardless of whether or not the public authority intends to acquire private information.

Under-age Sales Test Purchases

A relationship may exist between a shopkeeper and a customer even if there is only a single transaction. The CHIS Code of Practice gives an example of an intelligence led under-age sales test purchase where a juvenile is deployed to make a purchase of alcohol. The code comments that in these circumstances any relationship, if established at all, is likely to be so limited in regards to the requirements of the 2000 Act that a public authority may conclude that a CHIS authorisation is unnecessary. However, if the test purchaser is wearing recording equipment but is not authorised as a CHIS, consideration should be given to granting a directed surveillance authorisation.