Inside the Shadows: A survey of UK HUMINT practitioners examining their considerations when handling a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS)

Lee Moffett*, Gavin Oxburgh, Paul Dresser, Steven Watson, Fiona Gabbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Law enforcement agencies in the UK are embracing evidence-based policing and recognise the importance of human source intelligence (HUMINT), in the decision-making process. A review of the literature identified six categories likely to impact the handling of a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS), or an informant: (i) handler personality traits; (ii) informant motivation; (iii) rapport; (iv) gaining cooperation; (v) obtaining information, and; (vi) detecting deception. This study sought to identify which of these categories current HUMINT practitioners considered the most when planning and conducting a meeting with an informant. A bespoke online survey was designed and disseminated to 34 practitioners using purposive and snowball sampling. Directed Content Analysis and Thematic Content Analysis were conducted. Results indicate that practitioners appear most concerned with gaining co-operation (iv) and detecting deception (vi). Results also found an inter-connectivity between the six categories, with informant handlers often having to balance competing requirements. Implications for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Early online date29 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jul 2021

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