SWAN Statement Regarding Use of Children As Spies: Call For An Immediate Cessation

SWAN was appalled to learn of the coercion of children in the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) programme concerning terrorism, child sexual exploitation and gangs involved in drug dealing (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/20/child-spies-used-only-when-very-necessary-says-downing-street).

SWAN is fundamentally opposed to the use of children in state espionage. It cannot be countenanced that the State should use children in such an institutionally abusive manner. One child spy is too many, yet we hear the Home Office suggesting that not only is such a scheme in operation but there is increasing scope for its activities with a proposed loosening of the restrictions surrounding it.

Social Work is a human rights based profession prescribed by the State, that another State organisation should be putting vulnerable children in such dangerous situations knowingly and deliberately gives them no moral superiority over the criminal organisations they seek to stop. Children are given a Hobson’s choice of custody or returning to exploitative and abusive situations. 

We call for the immediate end to such operations and for support to be provided to the survivors of this scheme. 

This is a time when ironically, British moral outrage is directed at the US government’s separation of children from their parents’. This recent revelation supports the view that the Home Office have been aiming to create a situation of fear and surveillance via Prevent within the Muslim community and that this policy furthers that oppression, and divides communities.

To oppose the use of child spies please sign this petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/225416 

PALUK: Follow PALUK via the Swan website.

The Palestine UK Social Work Network arose following the 2010 IFSW Global conference, which saw the launch of the Global Development Agenda for SW.

In seeking to apply this global professional agenda, we recognise the specific challenges, which have confronted our Palestinian colleagues since 1948, as they have sought to practice under oppression and military occupation. As UK based social work colleagues, we seek to stand in support of our professional Palestinian social work colleagues in their struggle.

We seek to understand the unique realities and challenges of their daily professional practice, and to stand in solidarity with colleagues, in recognition of our shared professional status, activity and occupation.

In so doing, the Palestine UK Social Work Network (PALUK) will endeavour to;

  • To work collaboratively with Palestinian Social Work colleagues to raise and promote awareness of their experience in the UK
  • To develop supportive ongoing relationships with Palestinian Social work colleagues, and bear witness to their experiences
  • To support the collectivist activity of the professional union for Palestinian Social Workers and Psychologists (PUSWP)
  • To promote awareness between UK and European Social work organisations, of the experience of Palestinian Social Work colleagues.
  • To offer solidarity to Palestinian Colleagues, in recognition of both;
  1. Their social work practice issues which are defined by the military occupation
  2. Their personal, family and community daily experiences of living under military occupation
  • To share knowledge and expertise between two social work communities and seek to learn from each other’s practice experiences and initiatives
  • To raise international awareness of the experience of Palestinian social work practitioners within the global Social Work community, and seek to enlist further international support in recognition of their struggle.

SWAN and SWWB stand in solidarity with those protesting Family Separation in the US.





Social Work Action Network and Social Work Without Borders strongly condemn the barbaric treatment of families seeking asylum in the United States of America – treatment which involves the government inflicting trauma upon children by forcibly removing them from their caregivers and accommodating them in completely inappropriate conditions. The long lasting impact of such experiences are horrific for children and well documented.

Our international profession expects us to identify the needs of those experiencing adversity, to promote the safety and health of all, and crucially to stand shoulder to shoulder with the relatively powerless in having their voices heard and needs met. The international definition of social work demands that we defend social justice. We cannot remain silent as children and families are brutalised by globalised policies that have done so much to promote the social and economic inequality that creates their plight. As social workers, we are appalled by the abusive behaviour carried out by the US government against those seeking safety and a better life, and reject the arguments that suggest migrants are trying to take advantage of welfare opportunities.

We call on the Trump Administration to ensure that the families affected by this inhumane policy are treated in a dignified manner and their rights respected.  The international community should not relent its pressure on the US government to change its immigration policy. 

We stand in Solidarity with the National Association of Social Workers, and call upon the Trump Administration to ensure it acts in every conceivable way to reunite every child with their families as soon as possible.

To the children detained in camps in America, please know that we have not abandoned you. We are shouting loudly for your immediate release and reunification with those who care for you.

To those working with the families and children impacted by this appalling policy, we stand in solidarity with you. Thank you for your empathy and commitment to social justice. We will continue to highlight your fight internationally, as social workers united by a professional commitment to equality and collective responsibility.

Whilst the focus currently is upon the US, we remain vocal critics of UK policies around immigration. We welcome continued scrutiny of the role social workers are expected to play in border control, and support campaigns promoting the rights of migrants.

For further information on how to support those migrants affected in America please see: